Woods and Hall claim the 2024 Chichester 10k honours
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Based at the Goodwood Motor Circuit since 2017, the race lived up to its billing once again and those present witnessed some quality distance running from athletes of all ages, from under-17s right through to over-70s.
The high standard set by Graham Jessop and his team from the Priory Rotary club as organisers over many years has been a hard act to follow but the present organisers, Runbase Events, under Gavin Stephens, have again managed to continue to attract good quality runners to the area.
The mild conditions on Sunday were accompanied by a stiffening breeze which posed a challenge on the exposed parts of the course.
As the race got under way, it was assumed that a large leading pack would negotiate the opening lap of the motor cicuit – but Woods had other ideas.
With his confidence sky high following a 14.31 parkrun clocking over 5k the previous weekend, which was the fastest parkrun time in the UK, Woods decided that he would make the pace hard from the off.
Covering the opening 4k in a fraction over 12 minutes, the Worthing man was clear on his own when the course went out onto the surrounding roads. Some 20 seconds later the chasing pack emerged with Chichester’s Will Boutwood among the group of a dozen runners.
Going up to the turn round point just before Fordwater at the 7k mark, Woods showed no sign of slackening and strode in splendid isolation to break the tape at 30 minutes 17 seconds, just outside the coveted 30-minute barrier but a great result from a solo run in windy conditions.
Simon Heath from Brighton Phoenix surged to the line to grab the runner-up spot in 30.40 followed by teammates from Western Tempo Stephen Derrett and Phil Wylie, the latter a regular in Chichester over the years and leading over-45 with a fine 30.56, the equal fastest in the UK.
Chichester’s Boutwood came in a superb 6th in 31.08 and spearheaded a good Chichester quartet with Mike Houston 54th in 33.18, 8th over-40, Wesley Adams 90th in 34.33 and Mikeey Kwoka 92nd in 34.37, those being personal bests for the latter pair.
With team results not yet finalised at the time of writing, their score of 242 points gives Chichester’s men a provisional top three team placing after Brighton Phoenix and Aldershot Farnham & District.
The women’s race was always going to be a close-run affair with top GB international Gemma Steel making the journey down from Charnwood having won the Midlands Cross Country Championships the previous weekend.
Against her was in-form Lauren Hall from Aldershot & Farnham, a top 10 finisher in the World Cross Country trial at Parliament Hill a week earlier. It was Hall who started the faster and latched on to a group of senior men, a group which included Chichester’s Houston.
Not relenting her pace, Hall came into the finish to record a time of 33.20, the fastest women’s time in the UK in 2024 and only beaten by a handful on the notoriously fast Valencia course in January.
Steel battled to the end and was rewarded with the British Masters title in 33.40 with Hall’s team-mate Emily Moyes close behind in 33.46.
Last year’s winner, Cassie Thorp, was just outside the 34 minutes barrier with 34.05 while first local female athlete to finish was Charlotte Reading in 41.03, 23rd senior woman to finish.
As the race had the honour of hosting the British Masters Championships, it was unsurprising there were some truly astounding age group times set which runners in their 20s would be proud of.
There was a battle in the women’s over-55 category with Lucy Elliott just pipping Maria Heslop of Tonbridge by six seconds in 37.11. A decade older, Jenny Reay ran 42.06 to win the over-65 age group, a time which lifts her above Chichester’s Helen Dean to third UK all-time in the age group.
The men were equally as impressive with Colchester’s Adrian Mussett winning the over-50 men’s race in 31.40 in a staggering 15th place overall. Andrew Leach of North Herts was equally as impressive to be first over 60 in 34.05 while David Maclean of Sphinx AC showed age is no barrier to be crowned UK over 70 men’s champion with 41.12.