Familiar faces first past the post at the Corporate Challenge

Another fine evening greeted 600-plus runners for the second of this year’s Corporate Challenge road race series – and that resulted in fast times and competitive action in all the races.

In the junior age groups, the star turn came in the secondary boys’ race in which James McKenzie and Harry Leleu battled all the way before McKenzie drew clear on the final of their four laps to cross the line in 8min 39sec.

The time was just five seconds outside the Year 10 record of ex-Midhurst Grammar schoolboy Sam Gillert.

Being pulled along with the fast pace, Leleu reaped the benefit to break the Year 9 record by two seconds in 8.45.

Running at the same time, the Year 7 and 8 boys repeated the result of race one over their shorter three-lap distance with Ed Gerwat just getting the better of Harry Lyne and Casey Keates in the Year 8 race while Zac Hurst was too good for the other competitors in the Year 7 field.

Team-wise, Bishop Luffa dominated the Year 7 and 8 contests while Chichester High School, led by Toby Hindmarsh and Josh James, have the upper hand in Year 9.

In the secondary girls’ race, the first three home were in-form Georgina Warner winning overall for Year 10 in a fast 7.15 for three laps followed by India Spoor and Hannah Croad (both Year 9). In a close fourth place was the first Year 8 runner home, Charlotte Reading.

In the Year 7 race Holly Olding was less than half a minute back to repeat her victory of race one.

The fastest team of any on the day were the Chichester High School for Girls line-up of Reading, Rose Ellis and Jade Freeman-Bailey with a speedy aggregate time of 23.34.

There was a fine battle in the primary boys’ race with Central’s William Broom showing a vast improvement over Josh Eeles from Midhurst to win in 4.40 in the two-lap race, just five seconds off the course record.

In the girls’ race Maisie Grice from Uplands had a resounding win over Bethany Lewis from St Mary’s with a 5.04 clocking.

The senior races brought excellent battles in the men’s and women’s races. A small group quickly settled at the head of the A race comprising Harry Carter, James Baker, Dan Bailey and Mark Burchett, all of whom had featured strongly in the first race. These four were soon joined by DSTL stalwart Colin Dixon and quickly moved clear of the rest of the field.

As in race one, Carter got the better of Baker over the second half of the race with the pair again both inside the 14-minute barrier.

For the women, Midhurst-based Emily Alden just got the better of Worthing’s Rachel Ogden to win by nine seconds in a very fast 15.11 – a commendable 11th place overall in the race.

Team-wise, Alden led a Chichester trio of Jane Harrop and Beth Garland with a stunning 50-minute aggregate time in the women’s sports category while Midbourne Springers just dipped under the hour to lead the Corporate standings.

For the men, DSTL were less than a minute in front of Chichester University Staff while the three leading sports team were separated by less than a minute with Portsmouth-based Oddbins just getting the better of local triathletes CWTC Fast Boys, with Worthing Hares hot on their heels in third.

All runners will hope for favourable conditions for the last race in the series next Wednesday.

PHIL BAKER