ORGANISERS of Chichester’s popular Priory 10k road race are preparing for the event’s silver anniversary.
The 25th running of the race takes place on Sunday, February 7, starting at 10am in College Lane.
It is the first major local running event of the new year and gives entrants an early assessment of their post-Christmas fitness, especially if they have a longer run in mind later in the year.
Many runners use it as part of their early training for the London and Brighton marathons and organisers say it is set to be as popular as ever.
The course will be the same as last year, when a few minor changes were introduced that were appealing to the runners.
Further improved traffic management measures on the A286 will be introduced this year to enhance runner safety.
Now the refurbishment of Chichester Festival Theatre has been completed, runners will once again be able to enjoy the final stages of the race through the CFT grounds, where great support is always given.
Runners will be led out from race HQ in Northgate car park into College Lane for the start. They will head north until they meet the junction with Wellington Road, where they will turn right into Graylingwell Park.
Runners arrive at the top of Kingsmead Avenue and after a gentle downhill slope they return to the old course at 2k. From then on it is business as usual around the Goodwood airfield, into East Lavant and back down the Broyle Road to the finishing line.
It is expected that entrants from all over the UK will take part. Many faithful supporters will be joined by new entrants and the entry limit of 2,000 runners is likely to be reached.
For the past few years, this race has always been oversubscribed and if you intend to run this year, make sure you get your entry in over the next ten days.
The race is organised by the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory, who use it to raise money for many deserving causes. Over the past 24 years, more than £330,000 has been raised for a variety of charities, in addition to personal sums raised by individual runners for their chosen charities.
There are a number of sponsors again this year, including a major sponsor from previous years, Brooks, the international sportswear company who have been associated with the event for ten years.
Wannops LLB, a Chichester firm of solicitors, are a major sponsor, as is Henry Adams, the estate agents and agricultural land valuers.
There are a number of special activities planned to mark the landmark year.
Organisers would like to hear from anyone who has run 20 or more of the races. If you have more than 20 of the commemorative mugs, send the organisers a photo.
Prizes are being awarded to the woman and man who can demonstrate they have completed the most number of Chichester 10ks and to the fastest runners over the past few years and the oldest competitor who has been involved in a number of races. Full details are on the 10k website.
Early indications are that the quality of the field in the men’s race in 2016 will be as good as ever. John Beattie and Lee Merrien, both of Newham and Essex Beagles, will be running immediately after completing an altitude training camp in Kenya and should be capable of breaking the magic 30-minute barrier.
Beattie was the fastest Englishman on the road over this distance in 2015 and Merrien represented GB at the 2012 London Olympics in the marathon.
John Gilbert of Kent AC, recent winner of the South of the Thames cross-country championships, and Andy Maud of Highgate Harriers are also capable of a sub 30-minute 10k.
Ten more male athletes should be close to 30 minutes including Paul Whittaker, Kevin Rojas and Neil Boniface, who have featured in the top ten at previous events.
The leading female entrant at present is Rebecca Moore from Worthing, a podium finisher last year who in 2014 was a bronze medallist at the England national ten-mile road championships held with the Great South Run at Portsmouth.
Her main rivals will be Helena Tobin of Brighton and Hove AC, Megan Thomas of Lewes AC, Ellie Monks of Southampton AC and Emily Proto of Arena 80 AC.
Clare Elms of Dulwich Runners AC, a regular visitor to Chichester, will take some beating in the veteran categories.
The race also attracts a wide range of abilities, from new entrants experiencing the Chichester race for the first time to those who know a personal best is attainable on such a flat, fast course.
All the local running clubs are expected to enter strong teams. The race also features in the Sussex AA Harvey Curtiss 10km road race challenge series, so some of the best runners in Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, South London and counties farther afield are expected.
Spectators are welcome to see the runners off along College Lane. Large crowds are expected at the finish and prime positions to view the race are along the Broyle Road from the Avenue to the Festival Theatre.
The leading runners will be back in about 30 minutes but for the next 45 minutes expect to see large groups of runners crossing the finishing line.
Full pre and post-race coverages will again be provided by the Observer series.
Entry forms are available from Westgate Leisure in Chichester, the TIC in Tower Street and online from www.chichester10krace.org.uk
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