Chichester’s two teams were among the field of 60 teams who tackled one of the most iconic races in the south, the 100-mile South Downs Relay.
While most walkers take up to a week to enjoy the stunning scenery and various challenges of the long-distance footpath, these teams of six runners per team reckon on finishing in the hours of daylight in a single day.
While not a club record, which dates back to the late 1980s, Chichester’s A team put in a fine performance to break the coveted 12-hour barrier to finish in 11hr 51min 55sec, the best time for a Chichester team since 2010.
Team captain Keith Ackerman was joined by parkrun co-ordinator Mike Houston and club stalwarts Charles Rodmell, John Bullard and Justin Eggins plus the youngest and least experienced member of the team Graham Woodward, who has been making great strides in his running over the past year.
From the start at Beachy Head, teams have to negotiate their way along the South Downs Way’s marked footpath, which requires great concentration when travelling at speed – as many teams have appreciated over the years to their cost when runners have gone miles out of their way and had to retrace their steps, losing valuable time.
With the race split into 18 stages of slightly varying lengths, each runner is required to run three of the legs, usually spread throughout the day to give time to recuperate and take on much-needed refuelling, especially drinks, as the day became quite warm.
From the start at Beachy Head, teams have to negotiate their way along the South Downs Way’s marked footpath, which requires great concentration when travelling at speed.
Credit must also go to the B team, who were forced to look for two replacements at short notice. David Knight and Ben Ritchie answered the call and safely negotiated their legs to join regular team members Mark Jennings, Jason Boswell, David Pike and team captain Mike Moorcroft.
The six did themselves proud to finish well inside the time limit and help to keep up the club’s impressive record in the 30 years of the race.
Midsummer 5 Preview
The Midsummer 5 road race takes place tonight (June 21).
Chichester Runners & AC, led by experienced race director Graham Jessop, are pleased with the flow of entries and urge those wanting to run not to leave it until the last minute.
The race is one of the few events in the south to offer a fast time over a distance which still has echoes of the 1960s and 70s when five miles and ten miles were the two distances regularly tackled by club runners.
The race has an impressive course record set by ex-international steeplechaser Tom Buckner whose sub 25-minute clocking was set in 1996. In the same year Zara Hyde Peters ran just outside 28 minutes to set the women’s course record.
There is the possibility of a few entries being accepted on the night with a surcharge but if the limit has been reached, runners may have to be turned away.
* There was double celebration for the Baker family after last week’s D-Day 10k in Portsmouth.
While James Baker won the race overall, his mother Sue scooped the over-60 women’s prize.
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