VIDEO: Who needs Mo? Bognor 10k has winner Jo

IN THE eyes of runners and spectators, it was a perfect ten.

It was hard to find anything wrong with the milestone 20th Bognor Prom 10k, run in great spirit under cloudless skies but with a breeze coming in off the sea to ensure athletes didn’t overheat too much.

Race winner Jo Corbett, (middle), James Baker, 2nd (left) and 3rd placed Ant Gritton  Picture by Louise Adams

Race winner Jo Corbett, (middle), James Baker, 2nd (left) and 3rd placed Ant Gritton Picture by Louise Adams

Although the number of entries – 1,864 – was slightly down on last year’s number – the total who actually ran on the day was up, the figure of 1,549 finishers setting a new record for an event that again enjoyed a wonderful community and sporting spirit.

There were local runners at the head of the field: the first two men home and the first woman all had strong West Sussex connections.

And it was a day when hundreds, from the front of the field to the back, could be proud of their own achievements – whether it was setting new personal bests, raising significant sums for charities of their choosing, or simply getting round the pleasant 10,000m course.

Entries secretary Gavin Oclee Brown said organisers were able to reflect on a job well done as he praised competitors, the crowds who turned out to cheer them on and the many volunteers who made the 10k run like clockwork.

There were no new course records set as the event marked the end of its second decade but Jo Corbett – a 33-year-old who has run many times for Chichester Runners but was on this occasion unattached – broke the tape in 32min 16sec.

He had trailed Chichester’s James Baker for most of the way but with about 200m to go he made his move to hit the front and Baker couldn’t catch him.

Baker was eight seconds back in 32.24 – a time he could be happy with after running in two 3k-long events for Chichester at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre the previous afternoon.

Corbett said: “This is the fourth time I’ve done this race and I’ve been third and second before – and 12th when I had not such a good run – so to win it is great.

“James was quite a way ahead at one stage but I knew if I could keep him in sight I could produce a strong finish, and that’s what happened.

“It’s a good course and a lovely atmopshere – I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Baker was content to come in second and said: “I’ve been in the top three here 12 years in a row. Conditions were excellent.”

The women’s race was won – as in 2012 – by Chichester’s Linda Spencer, who would feature at the head of more local races were it not for the fact she now spends most of her time in Australia.

She was seventh overall and came home in 34.11, telling the Observer: “I’m really pleased. I’m not in the country for long but was pleased I was here for this race. The crowd were great.”

Ant Gritton from Lordshill in Southampton was the third man across the line, followed by Brighton, Worthing and London athletes – and not too far after those came the first runner from Bognor’s own Tone Zone club, Simon Gill finishing in 37.04.

Gill was one of an incredible 120 members of the Tone Zone clan to run – giving them about eight per cent of the line-up.

The age-group honours in the men’s race went to Graham Godden (40-49), Vladimir Matrejik (50-59), Reg Ball (60-69) and Jerry Whitman (70-and-over).

In the women’s event, those classes were won by Kari Mack, Chichester’s Jane Harrop, Guyleen Scoll and Christine Knoll.

Team prizes went to Chichester Runners in both the men’s and women’s event.

Locals and family and friends of athletes lined much of the seafront course and helped runners through some of the tougher stages.

Oclee Brown said organisers from the Rotary Club of Bognor Hotham were delighted to break a new record for entries.

“This could be a reflection of the improving fitness and stamina of local runners - or perhaps due to the gorgeous weather we had on Sunday,” he said.

“I am pleased to say there were no serious injuries - just the normal blisters, grazes and perhaps some injured pride – and I know from talking to many of the runners it was a great day enjoyed by everyone.

“The Rotary Club would like to say a huge thank-you to all the helpers, marshals, volunteers, and of course the large number of people cheering on the runners all along the prom and around the route.

“It is a great community event. We could see at the finish line runners encouraging each other as they sprinted or in some cases limped towards the tape.

“It was a great day - hopefully there will be many more to come. If anyone would like to help in future years please contact the Club and they will be welcomed.”

Oclee Brown said there was little or no capacity to increase the size of the race. The entry limit would remain at 2,000 because the number of runners is always about 15 per cent down on entries.

The main race was preceded by two junior fun runs along the front.

Around 90 took part in an 800m race for eight to 11-year-olds. William Parvin was the winner, followed in by Joe Baldwin and Alex Hancock.

A field of about 20 12 to 14-year-olds ran a 1,500m course, with Gabriel Broadhurst winning ahead of Jack Noble and Sean Power.

Organiser Nigel Hasted said it was nice to see so many youngsters joining in and he knew of many former junior fun runners who had now graduated to the main race.

Anyone who was there on Sunday and enjoyed themselves can make an early entry in their 2015 diaries – Rotarians are sticking faithfully to the tradition of holding the 10k on the third Sunday in May, so May 17 is inked in for the 21st running.

STEVE BONE