The fastest finishers in the Chichester Priory 10k had high praise for the course – and said they planned to return to defend their titles next year.
It was the second year of a new route for the race, which now starts and finishes at the Goodwood motor circuit and takes runnera along the country lanes of Goodwood, Westhampnett and beyond.
The top two men this year set a cracking pace, keeping up with three-minute kilometres all the way on a cold, clear and in places very breezy morning.
Highgate’s Andy Maud led from the start and until the very last stages when Aldershot’s Richard Allen, who had been on his shoulder since before they reached the long, open lad of the motor circuit which ends the contest, beat him in a thrilling sprint finish.
Allen was delighted to cross the line in 29min 45sec - earning him a cash bonus for setting a new course and breaking the magic 30-minute barrier.
He said he was over the moon with his time and with the win, saying: “I knew I was in good shape. I ran a 29.59 at Christmas so I knew I was coming up around the time for a PB>
“I wasn’t sure what would happen today because I didn’t know what the field would like. Andy took it on really quick at the start and he turned it into a fast race.
“I only really caught him with 2k to go. He was well ahead for most of the race but I just tried to stick to my own race plan. I did’nt want to go too hard. I always run my best races coming through at the end. That’s what I tried to do and luckily it worked out. I was really pleased with the time.
“I didn’t know if I was going to catch Andy and when the wind started to pick up it became more difficult. I just managed sit on him. Because the wind was so strong I managed to recover a little bit while I was sitting on Andy.
“I was hoping I’d have more at the end and luckily I did.
“I’ve not done the Chichester race before but I really enjoyed it.”
Maud would have won the race on many other days and was 50 seconds ahead of the next man in, Aldershot’s Joe Morwood. The runner-up said it was only in the second half of the race that he was aware of Allen closing the gap behind him.
“I felt very comfortable in the first half but I probably made it a bit too hard for myself with the second half being into the wind,” he said.
“But it’s a fabulous course. The lap around the racetrack is brilliant. If it was a little less breezy it’s a super, super-quick course.
“I’ve not done this course before. The support is great.
“Unfortunately I didn’t quite have enough. I knew once Richard was on my shoulder it was going to be quite hard work. I was pushing into the wind and he was getting a breather. I’m quite happy that we’ve both done sub-30 minutes.
“That’s the best time I’ve run for a while. I’m sure I’ll be back next year and those times will attract even more top runners. It was a great race with great support and I really enjoyed it.
Top female finisher was Coventry Godiva’s Katrina Wootton, who loved the course and vowed also to return next year.
She said: “I really enjoyed it. It was beautiful weather – even though it was really cold it was also really sunny.
“I’ve never been here before and it’s a great atmosphere and a great event.
“I’ve never race around a motor circuit before! It was great because when I came into the circuit I finally knew I was making my way to the finish. It was nice to see the whole lap.
“I was really pleased with my time, just over 33 minutes. It was pretty windy out there and a bit chilly so I was really pleased.
“My best 10k time is quicker but that was when I was at my peak for 10k and at the moment I’m training for a half marathon. I’ve done about 75 miles this week so I’m pretty tired.
“I was using this race as a warm-up for a race I’ve got next weekend but I’ll definitely come back here again. It was really well-organised with great support.”
There were three Chichester Runners in the first 25 finishers, with Harry Leleu sixth in 32.03, Chris Bird 19th in 33.27 and James Baker, never far from the top group in these events, 24th in 33.57.