It’s Boniface 1 Baker 1 in big-race battle

Neil Boniface and James Baker vie for honours at the Barns Green half marathong  Picture by Claire Turnbull
Neil Boniface and James Baker vie for honours at the Barns Green half marathong Picture by Claire Turnbull

Two previous winners went head to head in the Barns Green half marathon and such was their dominance over the rest of the field that the pair were nearly five minutes clear of their nearest rivals.

At the end of the undulating course around the country lanes near Horsham, local man Neil Boniface just pulled away from Chichester’s James Baker over the final five miles.

The pair had gone through the five-mile mark in 27min 30sec and were still shoulder to shoulder at 10k. Boniface was able to make a surge in the latter part of the race, which brought him home in 71.06min with Baker crossing the line in 72.22.

Former junior international Alistair Moses from Reigate was next to finish but was nearly a mile behind the top two.

There was further success for Chichester with Dave Worcester setting a new club over-60 record with a time of 1.28.56 for a fine 63rd place overall out of nearly 1,500 runners.

As part of his club’s winning Sussex relay team at Goodwood recently, Worcester has given his team-mates a tough standard to aim for.

The remaining seven members of the club were Lee Neumann, who was 122nd (1.34.08), Matthew Sheldon 190th (1.38.25), Tom Sharp 205th (1.39.03), Colin Harley 387th (1.47.47), Louisa Etherington 406th (1.50.58), Alison Defries 753rd (2.01.15), Hugh Davies 894th (2.08.15).

There was an interesting postscript to the Barns Green race as the winner and runner-up locked horns once again at Henfield a week later for the Alf Shrubb Memorial five-mile cross-country event.

Baker turned the tables on the Horsham man with a convincing win in 26.22, with Boniface home in 26.51. As with the Barns Green race, spectators had to wait a considerable time for the next runner to appear.

Having enjoyed their first summer training at the all-weather J track at the University of Chichester, Chichester Runners & AC are moving to their winter headquarters at Westgate Leisure, where they will be based until next April.

The summer’s new facilities have given much-needed opportunities for coaching on the 120m straight for sprints and hurdles while the middle-distance runners have been able to enjoy the grass area at the university as well as the Graylingwell Park area adjacent to the track.

With plans in pace to add a throwing cage and high-jump facility over the winter, the club are looking forward to offering complete track and field facilities when they return in the spring.

Winter training will be from 6pm to 7pm on Mondays and Wednesdays for secondary-school age children and on Wednesdays only for primary school Year 5 and 6 pupils. The senior section of the club will continue to meet at 6.30pm on both nights.

Such has been the surge in membership over the past few weeks that Chichester Runners & AC are nearly at the point of having to close their books to new members in the junior age groups.

Enquiries about the club should be made to honorary secretary Phil Baker by e mail at philbaker5@btinternet.com or by following the links on the club website.

Meanwhile the club are looking forward to their next Goodwood cross-country event of the autumn on Saturday week.

The main age group races start at 12.30pm with the under-13s but the club are putting on an extra primary schools’ race over 2,000m at 11.30am.

There will be no need to book in advance and athletes are advised to arrive about an hour before their event to collect their race number and warm up.

Registration will be from the marquee opposite Goodwood racecourse, with ample parking next to the course.

PHIL BAKER