A fine evening and near-perfect running conditions greeted nearly 900 runners on the second evening of the 2017 Corporate Challenge road-race series.
Once again there was a great competitive series of races, with a new A-race winner, a new over-40s record time and a total of more than 500 finishers in the schools event for the first time.
The primary boys got the evening off to a great start and the top five all bettered the winning time from the first race. Fionn O’Murchu from Bishop Tufnell again led the field home, this time in 4min 41sec, with a fine tussle behind involving Conor McCormack of St Richards, Max Sydenham from Fishbourne and Harvey McGuinness from Bosham split by a single second. Bosham turned the tables on Bishop Tufnell for top team spot.
In the girls’ race the top two pulled well clear of the rest with Ailsa Newton winning from Ellie Jefkins and leading her Camelsdale team to victory over Downview.
The secondary girls field showed great maturity after being called back following a false start.
First-time winner Ellie Farrow from Ditcham Park, full of confidence after a great run for Hampshire in the national inter-counties cross country, led the field round the first of the three laps at record-breaking pace but was unable to maintain such a schedule without close rivals to push her.
Her winning time of 6.58 was one of the few occasions that the seven-minute barrier has been broken in the 22 years of the evetnt’s junior races.
Second overall was the impressive Olivia East of Mayfield to comfortably win the Year 7 race, with Olivia Toms from Portsmouth Grammar third and first Year 8 over the line. Bishop Luffa lead in the three team events with Midhurst Rother runners-up in two.
The secondary boys’ race made a fine spectacle with more than 100 runners charging to the first corner at high speed. Without the winner of the opening race, the pace at the front enabled virtually all the field to improve their times substantially from two weeks earlier.
A group of three started to pull clear after the first of four laps in the Year 9/10 race with Alex Mani of St Philip Howard and Joshua Goldfinch from Brookfield joined by Liam Dunne from Bohunt.
Eventually Mani beat Dunne by a whisker, with both awarded the same time of 8.43, two of the fastest times ever. Just behind were Bishop Luffa duo Ned Potter and James Gardham, who, with Jack Dean, were too strong for the rest in the team race.
Running over three laps were the Year 7 and 8 boys and two Year 7s were first to finish overall with Joe Mclarnon from Ditcham Park just beating Cameron Walker-Powell of Mayville High by a second in 6.58.
Teamwise in Year 7 there was a close battle with Churchers beating Bishop Luffa and Chichester High School. Adam Robinson from Bourne won the Year 8 race from Josh Fawcett of Portsmouth Grammar and Seamus McCormack from St Philip Howard in third but Midhurst Rother won the team event.
There was a new name on the senior honours board with Zach Lahlal from Victory Vipers proving too strong for previous winner Jack Woods, both athletes nearly half a minute faster than in race one and both recording sub-13.30 times.
Third was a resurgent James Baker, who erased the disappointment of being outside 14 minutes in the opening race to finish in a fine 13.35 and set a new over-40s’ record in the process.
Ed Dodd in fourth could not prevent his RGP squad from narrowly losing the corporate team race to DSTL Portsdown.
In the sports team category there is a fine battle emerging between Victory Vipers, Oddbins from City of Portsmouth and Chichester Youth, with Vipers coming out on top in race two.
Rhiannon Dunlop was joined by team-mate Corin Bearpark to occupy the top two placings in the women’s race to give Havant Angels a clear lead in the sports category while DSTL have their sights on making it a double in the corporate classification.
The final event in this year’s series is next Wednesday. Organisers can accept entries on the night for all races except the full primary contests.
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