ANOTHER record entry has ensured the continued popularity of this Sunday’s Bognor Prom 10k road race.
A total of 1,864 runners – against 1,806 last year - have put themselves down to take part in the seafront run.
Among those lining up at 10.30am for the start in West Park will be a potential record-breaker.
An Ethiopian runner from London has signalled he is aiming to be the first to get around the course in less than 30 minutes.
Entrants organiser Gavin Oclee-Brown said: “The male course record of 31 minutes and six seconds was set by Matthew Norrington in 2005. It will be interesting to see if this runner can beat it. He is hoping to do so.”
The Ethiopian will collect £200 if he becomes the fastest man since the race was started by Bognor Hotham Rotary Club in 1995 - on top of the £200 prize for being the first man home.
He will be up against a host of serious runners from the south east all vying for first place.
Among the women, the even longer-standing record of 35min 19sec was set by Jenny Anne Brown back in 1999.
But the race, of which the Bognor Observer is a main sponsor, is about more than leading everyone else home across the finishing line in West Park after a circuit through Felpham village.
Many of those taking part are using the occasion to raise thousands of pounds for causes close to their hearts to make it the town’s biggest annual sporting fundraiser, with the Sussex Snowdrop Trust its charity partner.
Some are among the 96 teams which have registered. The biggest of them by far are the Tone Zone Runners from the Arun Leisure Centre at Felpham.
They have 114 members - the first team in the race’s history to get into three figures. They are more than twice the size of the second largest team, from the Arun Runners, who have a creditable 42 members. Chichester Runners and other clubs from across the region are also well-represented.
The first race entry was received on January 9 and Oclee-Brown said: “I’m not surprised the number of entries has increased every year of the race.
“It’s a really nice course. It’s flat and we have kept the entry fee the same for the past three years.”
One aspect of the race has changed constantly – the weather. Oclee-Brown said: “One runner who has entered the race for every year told me the weather has never been the same.
“It can range from a semi-hurricane to a downpour to a heatwave. I hope it will be reasonable weather on Sunday.”
The main race will be preceeded by two junior fun runs along the prom.
The first, for 12 to 14-year-olds, will start from the bandstand for 1.5km to Marine Drive West, opposite The Waverley pub. Eight to 11-year-olds will run 800m from just west of the pier to the same finishing line. Entries, costing £2 each, will be accepted on the day.