By Mike Legg
Hundreds of runners of all ages hit the heart of Chichester for the eagerly awaited first Corporate Challenge of the year.
It was another bumper turnout as well over 800 runners took part in eight races ranging from primary schools through to seniors.
Although there was plenty of fun to be had, there was also some exciting and competitive racing too.
There was a battle up front in the Senior A race between Chichester Runners’ young athletes and Solent Endurance, an elite training group based in Hampshire.
A dozen athletes were closely packed at the end of the first of the four-lap circuit but by half-way that figure had been whittled down to just four runners battling it out.
In was only in the last part of the final lap that the two Chichester boys made their break with 17-year-old Liam Dunne just getting the better of 18-year-old Ned Potter in the final 100 metres.
Winner’s Dunne clocked a time of 13min 30sec for the 4,500 metres course.
Potter came over the finish line just two seconds adrift.
The two Solent boys were next, with Thomas Walker easing away from team-mate Connor Whiting to record 13.43.
Portsmouth student Ellie Farrow was first woman home in 15min 34sec.
She was followed in by Guildford & Godalming’s Eleanor Harrison in 15.47 with Solent’s Katie Hopkins third in 16.01.
Race director Phil Baker said: “We were very lucky with the weather.
“It was cold but with little wind and dry on the city centre streets of Chichester.”
The action had got underway with primary schools boys and girls’ races, followed by older schoolchildren until the Corporate Challenge A and B races.
The senior races are split just due to the sheer volume of runners negotiating the tight course.
The runners also have the added complication of electricity works on the course this year.
The middle of East Street has been dug up with fencing around it while work is done to the power supply serving the city.
The bright sparks taking part did not let that slow their progress though.
The second and third race nights follow on March 11 and March 25.
Whether there will be a new record remains to be seen.
It will certainly take some beating.
Chris Zablocki’s 12min.38sec remains the time to beat after he bettered Mike East’s by a single second in 2016.
The women’s is surviving the test of time, literally.
Zara Hyde set 14.15 way back in 1996 and has prevailed against attacks from a number of Great Britain internationals in the years since.