Take part in Chichester race if you get half a chance

Barefoot Ben Wilkes, from Children on the Edge, in last year's Chi half  Picture by Makaela Papworth
Barefoot Ben Wilkes, from Children on the Edge, in last year's Chi half Picture by Makaela Papworth

The ‘Chi Half’ has had great appeal for so many people in the area over the past two years – and the response to the 2014 event has left organisers overwhelmed, with some 700 runners already entered.

The half marathon is a challenging and beautiful multi-terrain’ race, revived and revamped in 2012 after a 25-year absence. And it has already become well-established in the racing fixture list.

This year’s is on Sunday, October 12, and is again organised by the Chichester-based charity Children on the Edge in conjunction with Chichester District Council.

Last year the event hosted nearly 1,000 runners to raise vital funds for the work of the charity. Local sponsors Montezuma’s and Store Property are again backing the event. Both have directors who are keen athletes.

The race is a fantastic opportunity for runners to take part in a very popular and challenging race and enjoy the major city sights and landmarks and the spectacular rural scenery round Lavant and Goodwood.

The race features a good mixture of road, footpaths, cycle tracks and bridleways, over chalk, flint, downland grass and fields with heavy mud. It is challenging both in terms of the varying terrains and the ascents and descents.

The race will start at 9am and the headquarters is at Chichester College. Runners start in Westgate and travel along West and East Street to Eastgate Square, where it follows the City walls towards Priory Park, before making their way across Oaklands Park, towards the rugby club then out through Summersdale and Fordwater into East Lavant.

Downland scenery provides the backdrop for the runners to 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 the Isle of Wight.

The next two-mile stretch is a steady downhill descent into West Dean, from where the route 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 been able to increase the entry limit to 1,500 runners on account of their experience from previous years and some minor tweaks to the course, especially in the Fordwater area.

Ben Wilkes, director of Children on the Edge in the UK, said: “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 again for this year.”

Councillor Eileen Lintill, cabinet member for leisure, wellbeing and community services at Chichester District Council, said: “The half marathon has been a great success story, with nearly 1,500 competitors taking part to date. The event is suitable for people of all abilities over the age of 17 from beginners to more experienced runners, and this year we hope even more people will take up the challenge.

“You are advised to be training now in preparation for the race and a training programme is given on the website.

“If you want to get involved, but don’t feel able to take part, we are also looking for race makers to help with marshalling and other race duties. Their role is vital in making the event happen. Last year many complements were paid to the volunteers for their enthusiasm and initiative.”

Heading the entries is last year’s winner and popular Chichester Runners member James Baker , who on his day is rarely beaten in the area. With this increased interest in the Chi half it is expected Baker will challenge and break his course record – now 1hr 12min 25sec – for the third year running. The course record for the women was broken in 2013 by Jen Bishop in a time of 1.28.29.

Baker will be joined by at least 200 other club runners including a good representation from Chichester Runners and Bognor’s Tone Zone Runners. In addition there will be many from Portsmouth Joggers, Denmead Striders, Worthing Striders as well as the triathlon clubs from Brighton, Chichester, Horsham and Portsmouth.

Three quarters of the entrants to date are unattached with probably a slightly larger proportion of male than female entrants. All competitors last year were back within about three and a half hours.

With places filling up fast, prospective runners are advised to get their entries in within the next couple of weeks. It is unlikely there will be entries accepted on the day. You can sign up at www.chichesterhalfmarathon.co.uk

Training advice and guidance on preparation for the event is also available, as is further information at www.chichester.gov.uk.