Sign up for Chichester half marathon before it’s too late

James Baker and Laura Allen, winners of the men's and women's races in the 2012 Chichester half marathon  Picture by Spencer Gale

James Baker and Laura Allen, winners of the men's and women's races in the 2012 Chichester half marathon Picture by Spencer Gale

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The Chichester Half Marathon was revived last year and had great appeal to huge numbers of runners.

This year’s race was launched nearly five months ago and organisers have been overwhelmed with the response - with nearly 700 runners having entered.

The Chi Half is a challenging and beautiful multi-terrain half marathon, revived and revamped last October after a 25-year absence. One runner last year said: “This will become an iconic south-coast race, a must for any serious runner.”

It takes place on Sunday, October 13, and is organised by 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 charity. The local sponsors of the first event - Montezuma’s and Store Property - are backing it again this year. Both have directors who are keen athletes.

The race is a fantastic opportunity for runners to take part in what is becoming a very popular race taking in the major city-centre sights and landmarks as well as spectacular rural scenery.

The route features a mixture of road, footpaths, cycle tracks and bridleways over chalk, flint, downland grass and fields with heavy mud.

The race will start at 9am at Chichester College with a route also taking in the Lavant and Goodwood countryside.

It starts at Westgate and travels easterly along West and East Street to Eastgate Square, following the City Walls round towards Priory Park, before the runners make their way across Oaklands Park, towards the rugby club, then out through Summersdale and Fordwater into East Lavant.

The runners tackle Chalkpit Lane before climbing up to the Trundle. At the top, runners complete a circuit where they will experience stunning views of the Solent and, on a clear day, the Isle of Wight. 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 1,000after their experience of 2012 and minor tweaks in the course, including avoiding the Northgate subway. Ben Wilkes, head of Children on the Edge in the UK, who will be running bare-foot, 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 runners 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 district council, said: “Last year’s half marathon was a great success with more than 500 competitors taking part.

“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.”

Heading the entries is last year’s winner James Baker, of Chichester Runners & AC, 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 1hr 15min 32sec. The women’s record - Laura Allen’s 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 Bognor-based Tone Zone Runners.

There is good representation from Portsmouth Joggers, Denmead Striders, Worthing Striders as well as triathlon clubs from Brighton, Chichester and Portsmouth. Also running are two members of Chichester Runners who took up running for the city’s first half marathon 26 years ago.

Three quarters of entrants to date are unattached to a club.

Last year, all runners were back within about two-and-a-half hours.

With only a quarter of available places remaining, prospective runners are advised to get their entries in quickly. It is most unlikely entries will be accepted on the day.

You can sign up at www.chichesterhalfmarathon.co.uk - where training and preparation advice is also available. See www.chichester.gov.uk for more.

GRAHAM JESSOP