Challenge is on! Chichester road races saved by switch to summer

The 2021 Chichester Corporate Challenge is set to be saved.

The start of one of the junior races exactly a year ago - when the event had to be halted after two out of three race nights / Picture: Derek Martin

Exactly a year since the popular city-centre road race series ended its 2020 run early ahead of the first lockdown, Chichester Runners have announced plans to stage it in the summer – starting two days after the hoped-for lifting of the last Covid restrictions.

The plans are dependent on the government sticking to its current ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, but the news will delight runners and spectators who love the annual event, which sees hundreds of athletes of a range of ages and abilities competing. The planned dates are June 23 and July 7 and 21.

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Along with other amateur sport, most athletics has been impossible to stage for months. A few events did take place in the late summer and autumn but with restrictions on the number of runners and a virtual ban on spectators.

Race director Phil Baker stressed the Corporate Challenge arrangements would remain provisional until the next stages of the national lockdown easing programme were confirmed as going ahead. He said: “In the meantime runners will be looking forward to March 29, when group training is allowed to return for amateur outdoor sports.

“While runners of all ages will look forward to a return to racing, the chance to enter competitions will be especially welcomed by the younger runners who have missed an important time in their development.

“At present it looks hopeful the event will be allowed to run along the lines of previous years, but all eyes will be on future announcements from the government.

“It would be a shame if this year’s event cannot go ahead as it will be the 30th running of the series, which started on a smaller scale in 1992.

“Since then nearly 50,000 runners in total have competed on 86 evenings with a range from nine-year-olds to runners in their 80s.

“A number of future national champions have begun their running careers on our streets, while senior Olympians and Commonwealth Games champions have graced the event.

“As well as attracting star names, another important aspect of the event has been the team element which has attracted participation from a wide variety of trades and professions from the south coast and farther afield.”

See some pictures from past races at the Corporate Challenge on this website on Friday