Chichester athletes shine in biggest ten-miler... Staggering win for Baker
Chichester were well-represented in the Great South Run, the largest ten-mile race in the world, held in Portsmouth.
The junior runners were the unlucky ones at the Portsmouth event as the Saturday programme for the youngsters’ races had to be cancelled at the last minute because of adverse weather.
Fortunately for the seniors, conditions had abated by the Sunday enabling the 25,000 runners to get under way.
Chichester had no fewer than 11 runners who dipped under the 80-minute barrier, including the club’s two under-20 women, Imogen Matthews and Alice Cox-Rusbridge, featured on the back page.
First home for the club was James Ellis, who had battled hard in the recent Chichester Half Marathon until the final few miles when a lack of distance training took its toll.
At the Great South, Ellis was much happier with the distance and crossed the line in 56min 14sec to finish 33rd in the men’s race.
Also making the top 50 was Chris Bird, who had featured strongly in the recent Barns Green Half Marathon.
Bird was timed at 56.51 for 39th place in the men’s field, another solid performance. Both runners were within touching distance of some of the elite men’s field.
Two more of Chichester’s squad were just outside the hour mark with Mike Houston finishing in 60.37 for 94th in the men’s race and Mikey Neville hot on his heels in 60.53 for 102nd.
The rest of the club’s sub 80-minute finishers were Justin Eggins 64.19, Gareth Glass 75.33, Kim Nelson 75.57, Polly Gick 78.18 and Ashley Hiom 79.54.
James Baker has once again made his mark in the west country by winning the Exmoor Stagger in the most challenging conditions in recent memory.
The 15.1-mile course is classed in any case as a category-one fell race, starting and finishing at Minehead with a tough climb to the top of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, as well as a hazardous descent over rocky terrain.
This year’s race had the added problems of saturated ground from the recent heavy rain as well as high winds.
This did not deter the 40-year-old Chichester athlete, who stamped his authority on the race from the gun and completed the course in 1hr 54min 39sec, nearly a full ten minutes ahead of his nearest challenger.