Baker is county champion as Chichester athletes hit the road

Chichester Runners had a good turnout in the two major road races of the weekend and emerged with credit - and with another county champion for 2011.

It was no surprise that James Baker lined up as one of the favourites in the popular Barns Green half marathon around the country lanes near Horsham on Sunday.

Having posted a good time in Devon the week before over a tough off-road course, the undulations of the Barns Green route posed no threat and a finishing time of 1hr 10min 30sec left his rivals trailing in his wake as he became Sussex champion.

The 1,500-strong field included eight other members of the club who all put in worthy performances including Dan Turner, who was next home just outside the top 100 with a finishing time of 1.30.03 for 119th place.

Five more made the top 1,000 with Mark Hazlewood 440th in 1.44.24, David Knight 518th in 1.46.36, Roger Michael 631st in 1.51.05, Sue Baker 979th in 2.02.06 and Jess Daniel who finished 1,000th in 2.02.55.

Lois Jerrey was not far behind in 1,041st in 2.42.32 while over-60 Peter Shaw was 1,053rd with a time of 2.04.46.

While others from the club had opted for Barns Green, there was a healthy Chichester Runners turnout at the Great South Run through the streets of Portsmouth – considered to be the flattest and certainly the biggest ten-mile event in the English road-running calendar.

The crowds were in awe at the speed of the two Kenyans at the head of the field.

Even two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui, one of the favourites for gold at next year’s Olympic marathon, was left behind at the opening blistering pace of Leonard Komon, world record holder on the road over 10k with a 26.44 clocking in Utrecht last September.

However, Komon paid for his 4min 12sec opening mile by slowing over the second half of the race to finish well outside the course record.

The Chichester contingent performed well among more than 20,000 finishers and fielded five in the top 1,000.

Simon Ballard was first home for the club in 456th with a time of 1.09.37, closely followed by Andrew Moore in 556th in 1.10.35, Justin Eggins 793rd in 1.12.49, Kevin McGreal 817th in 1.12.59 and Nicky Upton, Chichester’s first lady home in 1.13.20.

Mark Jennings and Anthony Neaves were 1,218th (1.15.24) and 1,245th (1.15.35).

The rest of the club’s squad were Michael Moorcroft (1,928th in 1.18.50), Fiona Lewis (3,183rd in 1.23.17), Jon Plater (4,454th in 1.26.59), Harry Griffiths (8,663rd in 1.38.23), Lorraine Griffiths (8,639th in 1.38.26), Emma Webster (9,062nd in 1.39.28), Charlotte Hillary (9,497th in 1.40.40), Guy Osborne (10,585th in 1.43.40), Sally Humphrey (11,060th in 1.45.13) and Debbie Lord (13,222nd in 1.53.49).

Jim Habershon from Emsworth completed the race in 1.49.36 to raise money for Starlight, which grants wishes for seriously-ill children.

PHIL BAKER