IT’S over for another year – and the 2015 Chichester Corporate Challenge series finished in style.
The third and final evening of city-centre road races saw intense competition and some fast times among the seniors –and a new record in the secondary schools’ races.
As well as attracting elite runners of all ages, the event has also provided an opportunity for beginners and less-experienced runners to represent their work team while the junior races remain very much a schools event.
Another bumper turnout of more than 800 runners took advantage of another fine if cold evening with light winds making for fast times throughout.
There were again large crowds along the route with the support almost deafening in places, especially along the finishing straight.
See full results in today’s (April 2) Chichester Observer series
This season’s A races have been the most exciting for many years and the third race was no exception with a large group settling into a fast-yet-not-over-ambitious pace on the first lap with a dozen athletes in contention.
Gradually this was whittled down to a group of four with race-one winner Josh Guilmant from Brighton repeating his victory of a month earlier and dipping under the 13min 30sec mark for the first time.
Race-two winner Harry Leleu was runner-up, just edging out James Ellis and Mark Burchett, although Ellis had the satisfaction of leading his iRun works quartet to another team victory over last year’s winner DSTL Portsdown West.
Showing the quality of the race, Peter Concannon, Jack Woods and Simon Gill also dipped under the 14-minute barrier – giving a total of seven athletes under this sought-after mark.
Fay Cripps was again too good for the rest in the women’s race with a 16.48 clocking in front of Corin Bearpark, whose Havant Angels tied with Chichester Tri Club ladies on an aggregate of 53.21 for their three scorers.
DSTL ladies made up for their men’s team’s disappointment by winning the team race in front of an improving Thomas Eggar squad.
With more than 450 pupils running in the schools races, there was lively competition in all five contests.
Bt pride of place must go to Jacob O’Hara from Hampshire-based Oaklands School, who obliterated the course record in the secondary boys’ four-lap race and set new best split times over two and three laps along the way.
It is perhaps fitting that until this year, Harry Leleu, winner of the second evening’s elite A race, held the Year 9 record.
First Ben Collins of Chichester High School and now O’ Hara have broken the record and now occupy the top two in the all-time rankings.
In the other age groups Will Wall just pipped Luke Campbell by a single second in the Year 10 race while James Gardam edged out Liam Dunne and Stanley Kingshott in Year 7.
Callum Crook and Joshua Goldfinch both had the honour of breaking the seven-minute barrier in the Year 8 race while Bishop Luffa’s domination of the team event was broken only by another win for the Chichester High School trio of Collins, Alex Halfacree and Benedict Robinson who were too strong in the Year 9 and 10 combined race.
In the girls’ secondary race, Hampshire’s Cams Hill showed why they are ranked as one of the top cross-country schools in the South of England by winning three of the four age groups with only improving Rachel Laurie of OSVA braking their stranglehold by winning the Year 9 race.
Elsewhere, Saffron Moore in Year 7, Cheyenne James in Year 8 and overall winner Maisie Grice in Year 10 gave Cams Hill the three wins.
Teamwise there was another strong showing from Bishop Luffa, with Midhurst Rother emerging on top in the Year 7 race.
The usual charge of the primary boys set the evening in motion with Douglas Smith from Jessie Younghusband just pipping Seamus McCormack and leading his squad to a team win while Ellie O’Neill repeated her race-one win in the girls’ race with runner-up Nina Moranne having the consolation of leading her Jessie team to a win.
With the overall results being scrutinised, there will be a report of overall team and individual winners in next week’s Observer.
A note for your diaries – 2016 will be the 25th running of the Corporate Challenge which is certain to attract a lot of interest. Races will be held on February 24, March 9 and February 23.