Baker’s brilliant at Butser ... Meagher’s magic at Barns

James Baker marks his eighth Butser Run win
James Baker marks his eighth Butser Run win

One of the most challenging races on the local calendar, the Butser Hill Fell race, again attracted hundreds of competitors of all ages to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

And once again it was Chichester who provided the overall winner of the main event in the form of James Baker.

He has made a speciality of off-road and multi-terrain surfaces and was too strong for the other 200 runners in the senior race and had well over a minute to spare at the end of the five-mile course to break the tape in 31min 10sec. This was the eighth win in 11 years at Butser for the 37-year-old, whose career tally now stretches way past the 600 mark.

To cap a fine day for Chichester Runners, Fay Cripps emerged as an even more convincing winner in the women’s race to finish eighth overall with a staggering margin of more than five minutes in front of the next woman home.

In the junior races Harry Sage finished a fine fourth in the combined school Years 8-12 race for older juniors and was first in his Year 8 age group to make it a hat-trick for Chichester on the day.

Barns Green Half Marathon

More than 1,000 runners lined up to tackle the undulating West Sussex country lanes in this year’s Barns Green Half Marathon.

Running in his first race over the distance, Conrad Meagher was first Chichester runner to finish, coming 28th in an excellent time of 1hr 23min 57sec for the 13.1-mile course.

He was followed by four of the club’s regular senior and veteran runners with Mark Jennings leading the way in 186th in 1.40.00 followed by Mike Moorcroft in 228th in 1.42.26, Colin Harley 278th in 1.44.46 and David Pike 285th in 1.45.15.

The field also included three members of one of the recent beginners’ groups who have progressed through the next stage of their development known as the Cake Run.

The Barns Green Race was another huge step up and all three deserve enormous credit for tackling the race. David Butler was first to finish in 1,022nd place in 2.22.09, followed by Vicky Balandis in 1,110th in 2.31.11 with the final member of the group Diane Beaney finishing 1,220th in 3.14.20.

Much credit for the beginners’ initiative goes to club coach Rob Wiggins, who has been delighted to see members challenge themselves over distances they would not have thought possible when starting.

Hampshire Cross Country League

The opening fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League season takes place today (Oct 11) at the Downland Farley Mount course near Winchester.

Various fixture clashes mean Chichester’s representation will be smaller than usual with many of the seniors having their eyes on the Chichester Half Marathon the following day and many of the juniors attending a Sussex endurance squad training day at Twickenham, also on Sunday.