Speedy times and huge entries delight Corporate Challenge organisers

James Baker, left, won the first Corporate Challenge race of 2013 while John Morrey was third  Picture by Kate Shemilt
James Baker, left, won the first Corporate Challenge race of 2013 while John Morrey was third Picture by Kate Shemilt

A record of nearly 700 runners lined up for the first night of the 2013 Chichester Corporate Challenge road race series

and battled cold temperatures to produce outstanding results in the junior and senior age groups.

A Herculean effort from officials and marshals on the night kept the event running smoothly with so many runners and spectators lining the streets of Chichester.

As ever, the programme started with the cavalry charge of the primary boys, with a full-to-capacity field of 126 runners storming around the 1,400m two-lap course.

Have you seen our video from the first race night?

Ned Potter of Jessie Younghusband School emerged the winner, with Arthur Powell of Plaistow & Kirdford and Harry Sage of Ditcham Park occupying the next two places.

Potter also led team-mates Reuben Gallop and James Gardam to a clear team win over Rose Green and Downview.

The girls’ race was equally competitive with the top three breaking the five-minute barrier.

Madeline Wilton from Uplands just edged out Olivia Wiseman from Jessie Younghusband and Cheyenne James from Locks Heath with Lily de Lacy and Bethany Stonefrost joining Wiseman for another team win for JY over Bishop Tufnell and Plaistow & Kirdford.

Such is the growing popularity of these races that 20 schools fielded completed teams, some for the first time.

In the three and four-lap secondary pupils’ races, all eyes were on the two primary-school course record breakers from last year - Josie Czura from Cams Hill and Ben Collins, now at The Academy, Selsey.

Neither disappointed. First Czura had the legs to beat all other runners in the girls’ race in a time only beaten by Charlotte Browning more than a decade ago, while Collins was too good for the Year 7 and 8 combined field and only the fourth runner to break the seven-minute barrier.

There was an individual Hampshire schools’ clean sweep in the Year 7 girls’ race as Anya Pigden from Churchers and Emilt Guiry from Portsmouth High filled the next two places, but Eloise Lane in fourth had the consolation of leading team-mates Annie Frazer and Jess Hall to a team win for Midhurst Rother College.

There was another good Hampshire showing in the Year 8 race with a win for Elizabeth Hedley from Petersfield over Maisie Grice from Cams Hill, but Abbie Turner in third kept the local flag flying by leading her Bishop Luffa team to victory.

From the same school, Amber Westrom led the Year 9 girls home with Midhurst Rother the first team, but the most fiercely-fought age group came in the top junior year with Rose Ellis finishing in exactly seven minutes from Cams Hill pairing of Evie Grice and Ellie Czura.

Chichester High School’s Ellis was joined by Charlotte Reading and Beth Rogers for a convincing team win over Lavant House and Bishop Luffa.

Equally-competitive racing was seen in the boys’ race with Collins just getting the better of Harry Moore and Noah Chisham and Jack Moore in fifth leading Midhurst Rother to another team win.

Brodie Keates led the Year 8s home from Alex Smith from Bishop Luffa, who took team honours. In the four-lap race Casey Keates from Felpham again showed his fine end-of-season form to win from Ed Gerwat of Bishop Luffa and Harry Lyne from Felpham, who were deprived of the team win by the lack of a third runner which they intend to rectify in the second race next Wednesday.

By the time the seniors were on the start line the temperature was near to freezing so their fast times were all the more commendable.

James Baker decided to make the A race a true test and went off at 13-minute pace for the first two laps covered in 6.30. Although slowing slightly from this furious pace, the local favourite comfortably held off fast-finishing Lewis Challen from Hampshire-based Absolute Running and John Morrey from Worthing Hares with a ten-second margin at the finish in 13.32.

In the sports team category, there was a thrilling outcome with Chichester’s under-17s - Harry Leleu, James McKenzie and Josh James, plus guest Robin Ward - producing an aggregate time of 57min 55sec, exactly the same time as Worthing Hares and

just five seconds in front of Absolute Running, for whom 2012 champion Harry Carter may appear in race two.

In the women’s standings Havant pair Corin Reynolds and Amy Bream sandwiched Lauren McCarthy from Portsmouth but Chichester under-20 trio Georgina Warner, Emma Maynard and Nicola Mead were separated by just 12 seconds at the finish to all dip under the 18-minute barrier and hold an impressive lead in the team standings.

For next Wednesday’s second races, organisers can accommodate a few extra entries in all except in the primary boys’ category when the safety limit has been reached. Registration will be at race reception outside North Street’s Assembly Rooms from 5.30pm.