New Chichester race is not half popular...

Competitors tackle the 2012 Chichester half marathon  Picture by Spencer Gale
Competitors tackle the 2012 Chichester half marathon Picture by Spencer Gale

THE Chichester Half Marathon - revived in 2012 - had such a great appeal to so many people in the area. And the 2013 event looks like building on that success.

It was launched nearly three months ago and organisers have been overwhelmed with the response to date.

The Chi Half is a challenging and beautiful multi-terrain half marathon, revived after a 25-year absence.

This year’s race is on Sunday, October 13, organised by the Chichester-based charity Children on the Edge in conjunction with Chichester District Council. Last year the event hosted 500 runners to raise vital funds for the work of the charity.

The race will start at 9am and will again be based at Chichester College, taking in the city centre and surrounding Lavant and Goodwood countryside. The terrain is a good mixture of road, paths, cycle tracks and cross country. It starts in Westgate and travels easterly along West and East Street to Eastgate Square, where it follows the City walls towards Priory Park, before the runners make their way across Oaklands Park, towards the Rugby Club and then out through Summersdale and Fordwater into East Lavant village.

Stunning downland scenery provides the backdrop for the runners to tackle Chalkpit Lane before climbing up to the Trundle from Five ways where runners have stunning views of the Solent.

The next two miles are a steady downhill descent into West Dean from where it picks up the Lavant Valley, returning to Chichester along the Centurion way, finishing in the rear college car park - a distance of just over 13 miles.

Organisers have increased the entry limit to 1,000 runners and have made minor tweaks to the course, including avoiding the use of the Northgate Subway.

Ben Wilkes, head of Children on the Edge in the UK, said: “In an era where people are increasingly disconnected, it’s been a privilege to be part of bringing the community together at this fantastic event.

“The race is a must for all kinds of runner and a great way for the people of Chichester to raise money for vulnerable children across the globe. We have high hopes for this year!”
Cllr Eileen Lintill, cabinet member for leisure, wellbeing and community services at the council, said: “The event is suitable for people of all abilities (over the age of 17) from the beginner to the more experienced runner, and this year we hope even more people will take up the challenge.

“A full training programme is given on the website but you are advised to start training now. If you want to get involved, but don’t feel able to take part, we are also looking for volunteers. Their role is vital in making the event happen.”

The 2013 event will be another fantastic opportunity for runners to take part in a very popular race and one that takes in the major city centre sights and landmarks as well as spectacular rural scenery.

The local sponsors of the first event - Montezuma’s and Store Property - are again backing the event. Both organisations have directors who are keen athletes.

At the end of June nearly 500 runners had entered for this October - which is a fantastic number and more than four times the number at this stage last year.

Heading the entries is last year’s winner James Baker of Chichester Runners who, on his day, is rarely beaten in the area.

With this increased interest in the Chi half it is expected Baker will challenge his course record of 1.15.32. The women’s record, set by Laura Allen in 1.36.22, will also be at risk.

Baker will be joined by at least 100 other club runners including a good representation from Chichester Runners and Tone Zone Runners.

Also running are two members of Chichester Runners who took up running for the first Chichester Half Marathon some 26 years ago.

The race is not only for club runners and three-quarters of the entrants to date are not attached to a club.

All competitors last year were back within about two-and-a-half hours. The entry list also has five representatives of our sponsors.

In view of the overwhelming support for the event and only half of the available places remaining, prospective runners are advised to get their entries in early.

Organisers regret that the race limit cannot be exceeded. You can sign up at www.chichesterhalfmarathon.co.uk where training advice and guidance on preparation is also available. Further information is available at www.chichester.gov.uk.

- Graham Jessop