Ethiopian ace helps make Bognor 10k one to remember

Winner of the men's event Tadele Geremew from Ethiopia  Picture by Spencer Gale

Winner of the men's event Tadele Geremew from Ethiopia Picture by Spencer Gale

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Tadele Geremew may not be a household name in West Sussex but he made sure the 2012 Bognor Prom 10k will live long in the memory.

The Ethiopian ace didn’t just beat the course record for the 18-year-old event ... he smashed it out of sight.

As soon as the 26-year-old entered, organisers tipped him as hot favourite to win the seafront race and said he was a good bet to beat the course record of 31min 06sec set by Matthew Norrington in 2005.

And Geremew proved those predictions emphatically right.

He led from the start and was never under threat, even from the group of runners in closest pursuit, and at times made it look like a gentle training run.

Sure enough, he crossed the line in 30.36 – 18 seconds outside his own personal best for the distance, which he’d recorded just two weeks previously at Kings Lynn, but half a minute inside the old record.

It was impressive stuff from the African and the large crowd who’d turned out in improving weather to cheer on the 1,500 field gave him a good reception as he crossed the line.

His record time doubled his £200 prize for coming first.

He wasn’t the only athlete celebrating a new Bognor course record.

First woman home was local athlete Linda Spencer – also an impressive fourth overall – and her time of 33.38 was a new best for the women’s race.

The only other two athletes to beat her were Jo Corbett and James Baker, who past the post in 32.18 and 32.37 respectively.

Corbett now runs for Newham & Essex Beagles but still has strong links with Chichester and will have been delighted with his performance.

Some of the biggest cheers of the day were reserved for the local club, ToneZone, who had two finishers in the first nine home.

Simon McLoughlin was sixth overall in 34.30 with Simon Gill just 15 seconds and three places behind him.

Another local club who were well-represented were Midhurst Milers, who saw Tim Young come in 11th in 35.37.

In all there were 1,497 finishers – not quite a record number despite the best-ever number of entries, 1,864. Organisers reckoned the poor weather forecast, which proved over-pessimistic, must have put some off turning out.

Bognor Rotary Club, who stage the event, were delighted with its success and are already starting to think about next year’s race, which will again be held on the third Sunday of May.

The main 10k was preceded by two junior races – one for eight to 11-year-olds, the other for 12 to 14s, both of which were well-attended.

Rotary president and past race director Peter Elliott said: “We had an excellent turnout and the weather ended up being quite kind to us, so we couldn’t have asked for more really.

“Geremew ran very well to break the course record. It was obvious from the start he was going to win the race and he always looked on course to beat our best time. He was out on his own from the word go.

“It was lovely to see Linda Spencer break the women’s record too, as was seeing a good selection of local athletes among the front-runners.”

Elliott feels the race is just about at its capacity but says organisers will be pleased to see numbers up around the same level next year. He thanked the event’s sponsors, including the Bognor Observer, for helping make it a success. Some stepped in late after others had to pull out.

With Elliott the Rotary president this year, it meant a step up to the role of race director for his fellow Rotarian Robbie Burns, who has been involved in the event every year since its 1995 beginnings.

Burns said: “It went very well indeed and that’s thanks largely to all our marshalls and other volunteers who all do important jobs.

“We start planning each year’s race the previous September and a lot of hard work goes into each one. But when you see all the athletes and supporters out enjoying the day, it makes it very worthwhile.

“Personally I can’t wait for next year’s race now!”

STEVE BONE

See this week’s Observer for reports, pictures and a full list of finishers from the 10k