Chichester 10k: Whitby wins a thriller as race escapes snow

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Ben Whitby added his name to the list of winners of the Chichester Priory 10k at his first attempt - and loved it so much he wants to return to defend his crown next year.

The 35-year-old came to chilly Chichester believing he could win, and did just that in an impressive time in the conditions of 29min 37sec.

The Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow AC member beat Winchester & District’s Chris Powner by just two seconds in a great sprint finish - with the next two home only another second and two seconds behind Powner, who also finished the Chichester race as runner-up in 2009.

It was Whitby’s first entry into the event and he said: “I enjoyed it. The conditions were just right, really, and were okay underfoot. It’s an undulating course but not to the point where it slows you down.

“I wound it up after about 7k but was still pushed all the way. I’d hope to return next year.”

The race was a big success despite worries a day earlier that it might have to be cancelled if the area was covered in snow or heavy frost overnight.

As it turned out rain was the only thing to fall over most of the course, although some of the more remote parts of the route had a light dusting of snow - not enough to threaten the race, though.

Organisers said they were down on the expected 1,600 runners because the wintry weather had put some off travelling from further afield, but they remained pleased by the 1,435 who did finish.

Neil Gamester of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers was third in 29.40 and Jermaine Mays (Kent AC) fourth in 29.41.

The women’s race was won by Olympic hopeful Charlotte Perdue (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) in 33.19 - more than two minutes ahead of the next female to finish, Rebecca Moore of Worthing in 35.44.

That meant no course records were broken, but that took little away from a smooth 21st running of the Chichester event.

James Baker was the first Chichester Runner home in 32.18 - about a minute outside his 10k best. There was a good turnout from all the local clubs, including Chichester, Bognor-based Tone Zone, Midhurst Milers and Selsey Striders.

We will have more a full report, pictures and a complete list of finishers in the Observer series - out on Thursday.