Big-race organisers won’t do things by half in Chichester

Action from last year's half marathon / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Action from last year's half marathon / Picture by Kate Shemilt
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New features are set to make this Sunday’s Chichester Half Marathon the biggest and best yet.

BBC South Today presenter Sally Taylor will set hundreds of runners on their way from the start at the Chichester College race village at 9am.

The tough multi-terrain race includes a run up the Trundle before a return to Chichester via the Lavant Valley and Centurion Way.

Two new special additional opportunities for 2016 are the relays and the ten miler.

It was 25 years after the Chichester Observer Centenary Half Marathon that the race returned in 2012, but with a completely different course and under new management.

The new version was managed by Chichester District Council in conjunction with locally-ased charity Children on the Edge. From this year, the council’s role is being undertaken by Everyone Active.  

We are excited about this year’s Chichester Half Marathon and have introduced two new fantastic events to encourage a greater breadth of runner to take part; a ten-mile race and a half marathon team relay race.  

Stuart Mills

Since its revival, the race has gone from strength to strength and by popular demand returns for its fifth year. Organisers are again backed by two main local sponsors, Montezuma’s Chocolates and Store Property.

Stuart Mills, contract manager for Everyone Active Chichester, said: “We are excited about this year’s Chichester Half Marathon and have introduced two new fantastic events to encourage a greater breadth of runner to take part; a ten-mile race and a half marathon team relay race.  

“We are pleased to be working with Children on the Edge to deliver an event that not only makes a huge amount of money for some great causes but also actively encourages people to get active and lead healthy lifestyles.”

Ben Wilkes, UK director of Children on the Edge, said ‘We’re really excited to be in our fifth year, with a fantastic number of runners signed up and new races to try. We’ve got a record number of people getting sponsored for Children on the Edge, through our Run for Refugees campaign, which, together with the profits from the event, makes a huge contribution to our work.

“If you live in Chichester, do join us on race day along the route. Having ran the half myself I know it makes a big difference having the community turn out and cheer you on!”

The route is a mixture of road, footpaths, cycle tracks and bridleways over chalk, flint, downland grass, fields with heavy mud. It is challenging both because of the varying terrains and the steep ascents and descents.

Runners will be able to take in the major city-centre sights and landmarks as well as spectacular rural scenery in the Lavant and Goodwood countryside.

The ten-mile race option means there will be the chance to start and finish with the half marathon but cutting out three miles.

Runners will still pound through the city and climb two thirds of the Trundle but without the challenge of the final climb to the summit, and there will also be a shorter route back to the Lavant Valley.

A three-person team relay will be run over the same course but the route will be completed by a team of three different runners.

There will be three categories for this – three male runners from an athletic club; three female runners from an athletic club, or three runners of either sex representing a works team, a bona-fide club, or family and friends.

Leg one is from the start to the Royal Oak at East Lavant – a distance of about 3.6 miles; leg two is from the Royal Oak to the Dean at West Dean – around 3.8 miles; leg three is from the Dean to the finish – about 5.9 miles.

To be eligible to compete all runners must have been 15 by October 1, 2016 ,and if under 18 have the consent of a parent or guardian to enter.

To qualify as a finishing team all three runners must cover the full distance of their leg. There are still a few places left for this event but you will need to apply today (Thursday) to secure your team entry.

The magical figure of 1,000 entrants has been broken and it is unlikely to be possible to enter on the day. Many runners are from well-known local running clubs, from Brighton through to Southampton but just as many are unattached.

Sussex and Hampshire is well represented together along with Dorset, Surrey, south and east London and Kent – while the furthest-travelling entrants are from Cheshire, Humberside and Cornwall.

The largest club contingents come from Chichester Runners and the Bognor Tone Zone Runners, who each have some 30 plus entrants.

James Baker of Chichester Runners will be back to defend his title for a fifth time. Baker has been the first local man home in the Chichester Priory 10k many times as well as in many other local races. It will be interesting to see if he or a rival will beat the course record time of 1.11.52 he set last year.

After last year’s event Baker said: “I just love multi-terrain events and my time over this arduous course is as good as I was going to get.”

The women’s event looks competitive but is likely to have a new winner as, at the time of writing, the winners from previous years, with the exception of Laura Allen from Denmead, have not entered. The women’s course record is 1.28.34.

The Works Trophy is again featured and sponsored by local accountancy firm Evans Weir. This is an opportunity for employees of different workplaces to pit themselves against each other by signing up a works team.

New for 2015 was the King and Queen of the Hill competition, which is again sponsored by local sports shop, The Run Company.

Runners, male and female will compete to see who is the quickest climber of the Trundle between two points – Seven Ways car park and the end of the flint track at the point where the course starts to go round the summit.

Chip timing mats will be placed at the beginning and end of the section which will be marked with beach flags and bunting. To be eligible, runners must enter the half marathon, start the race in Westgate, complete the hill climb and be a recorded as a finisher in the Chichester College car park.

Also back in 2016 is the Krowmark Trophy, named after the local firm sponsoring the award. There will be a cup and a cash prize for the fastest club in the race.

The winners will comprise a mixed team, decided by adding together the times of the four fastest finishers of each club which must include one male and one female runner. This award is in addition to the usual prizes given to the winning men’s and women’s teams.

Other local firms supporting the event include Covers, Southdown Water, Wileys, the Body Shop and Higher Nature, Irwin Mitchell solicitors, Harwoods and Nature’s Way.

You can view more on the race at www.chichesterhalfmarathon.co.uk, while full coverage of the event and the results will be in next Thursday’s Chichester Observer, as well as on www.chichester.co.uk from the day of te race onwards.

It is hoped the people of Chichester will again take to the streets to encourage the runners on their way.

by Graham Jessop

* The field for the half marathon will include around 60 Nordic walkers, who are coming from far and wide as it’s one of the few courses that identifies the discipline separately.

Sylvia May of the Chichester group said: “We started with eight Nordic walkers in the first year in the race, 28 in the second and now many more in our third year. No running is allowed so it’s an even playing field. There will be trophies for first, second and third and for first in the ten-miler.

“Chichester Nordic Walking have gone from strength to strength and by the end of October, we will have three fully-qualified instructors and four walk leaders to cover all abilities from gentle wellbeing walks right up to Nordic circuits and ski fit courses.

“We will have at least three to four sessions a week and are ultimately aiming for one a day in the district at all times.

“We are so grateful to Children On The Edge and all the other organisers who have allowed us to take part in the half marathon. Nordic Walking UK will have a stand to answer any queries and interest others might have in the sport.”

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