THERE was another bumper number of runners for the second of this year’s Chichester Corporate Challenge race nights.
Spectators were out in force and witnessed some competitive racing and many new personal-best performances from juniors and seniors alike. After the juniors had done battle, the senior A race brought most excitement.
With Dan Bailey making a dash for the lead from the start, a group of half a dozen settled into a steady pace some ten seconds down after the first of the four laps.
By halfway the leader had been caught and Chichester’s ever-present James Baker was forcing the pace with last-time runner-up James Ellis, Worthing’s Mark Burchett and Chichester’s top under-20 Harry Leleu breathing down his neck.
The order was the same until the final corner into North Street, where Leleu summoned all his strength to pip Burchett by a second – with Ellis in third and Baker relegated to fourth for the second time in a row but with just five seconds separating the quartet.
It was a special moment for the Seaford College sixth-former. He has competed in the Corporate Challenge series as a junior and senior for the past nine years having started running for the Downview Primary School team.
See him interviewed about his win on our video, above
Just outside the top 50 overall, Fay Cripps was a convincing winner of the women’s race with a 40-second gap to Annabel Pink, and with Corin Bearpark in third.
Team-wise, the iRun team again just got the better of last year’s winners DSTL Portsdown West, while Worthing Hares posted a nippy combined time of 57.57 to have more than two minutes to spare over Chichester Casuals.
In the women’s rankings, Midhurst Rother Staff are out in front with DSTL second, while CWTC Ladies were just too strong for Havant Angels.
As usual the evening started with the rush of the primary-school cavalry charges, with the top three in the combined Year 5 and 6 races filling the same positions as in race one a fortnight earlier.
Ollie Sanderson once again came out on top in the boys’ race although all the top ten dramatically improved their times.
In the team results, Central leapfrogged Jessie Younghusband although there was less than a minute covering the top six teams. North Mundham also deserve praise for having two teams with an aggregate of under 16 minutes.
In the primary girls’ race, Poppy Chandler of Oakwood crossed the line just one second ahead of Nina Moranne, who nevertheless led Jessie Younghusband to a seven-second win.
In the secondary schools races, the top four in the girls’ race all had the honour of leading their individual school years.
Maisie Grice from Cams Hill in Year 10 was seven seconds in front of Olivia Wiseman from Bishop Luffa in Year 8 and led her school to team wins in both Year 8 and the combined Years 9 & 10 race.
Anya Pigden from Churchers was next, leading the Year 9 girls home, with another Cams Hill pupil, Saffron Moore, leading the Year 7 rankings.
Midhurst Rother took the team win with good packing from Lily De Lacy, Ella Howard and Ella-Jane Creasy.
In the secondary boys’ race, there was another dominant display from Ben Collins of Chichester High School, who won the Year 9/10 race and led his team of Alex Halfacree and Benedict Robinson to a convincing win over Bishop Luffa, who were led home by Luke Campbell.
Brodie Keates from Felpham improved to lead the individual Year 10 rankings.
In the Year 8 race there was fine running from the top three who all broke the coveted seven-minute barrier, with Worthing’s Ethan Fincham posting one of the fastest-ever times at 6.34 for the three laps.
In Year 7, the top three finishers had all performed well as Year 6 runners last year, with James Gardam wining in 7.09 with Stanley Kingshott and Liam Dunne finishing neck and neck in second and third.
Gardam’s Bishop Luffa squad won the Year 7 and 8 team races.
All eyes will be on the final race next Wednesday (March 25) where there will be all to play in the individual and team rankings, with the best two times taken into account over the three evenings.