Corporate/Schools Challenge - Race 3

On Wednesday 27th March perfect weather conditions greeted the 800 plus runners to the third and final series of Corporate/Schools Challenge road races with the large crowds treated to a thrilling evening of racing.


Not only was there the closest finish in the Senior “A” race in the event’s 28-year history but the schools’ part of the evening produced more than its share of excitement with some of the fastest times ever seen on the streets of Chichester City Centre. With a total of more than 2500 finishers over the three evenings the club pronounced the 2019 series as one of the best-ever. A total of 80 teams scored in the senior race with a similar number of schools’ teams in action making the 160 plus teams overall the highest ever.


Senior “A” & “B” Races

Some 130 runners of sub 18 minutes standard for the 4500m four lap course lined up for the Senior “A” race and it was soon apparent that fast times were very much on the cards. A large group soon formed at the front of the race with previous winner Jonathan White very much in contention but certainly not having things his own way with Solent MD team mate Sam Charig and runner up from the previous race Jacob O’Hara pressing hard. In the event it was English Schools representative Jacob O’Hara who narrowly squeezed home in a time of 13 minutes 11 seconds, a single second in front of Sam Charig and Jonathan White who were given the same time. All three runners now find themselves in the top 10 of all time. Will Boutwood was first local runner home in 5th for Everyone Active while the Chichester club saw 10 more finishers inside the next minute.


The women’s race had the same top three finishers as before with Portsmouth based Cassie Thorp making it a clean sweep of victories with a 15.34 clocking ahead of Ellie Farrow and Katie Hopkins, with all three runners inside the 16 minutes barrier.


A welcome return visitor to the event was former record holder Mike East who did well to finish inside the top 20 despite very little competitive running in recent years. In the team event, Dstl Portsdown were once again too strong for the rest in the Corporate category with Cawley Crawlers Medical Practice beating Rolls Royce to the runners-up spot. With two of the first three home, it was no surprise that Solent MD came out on top in the Sports rankings with a superb 54 minutes 22 for their four runners aggregate although Chichester youth team, Conrad’s Lads, with an average age of just 17 pushed them all the way and beat the City of Portsmouth Oddbins squad into third.


In the women’s section, first team were the very fit staff at Bosham Primary School with Polly Neville leading the way while the talented Chichester U20 trio of Alice Cox-Rusbridge, Maggie King and Beth Brown had more than a minute to spare over CWTC ladies.


Primary Schools

As usual the evening got under way with the four races in the Primary age group with a fantastic standard set in both the boys’ and girls’ races.



In the Year 6 boys’ race, previous winner Isaac Glanfield from Downview again set off at a fast pace but on this occasion was spurred by Ben Conti, a new entry from Marchwood School. The pair battled over the whole of the two lap 1400 metres course with Isaac Glanfield rewarded with a new personal best of 4 minutes 33 seconds, the second quickest time ever with only the 4.30 of Ben Collins ahead. Such was the standard that the top 7 in the Year 6 race all beat the 5-minute barrier as did Stanley Wilkes who posted a fine 4.48 clocking to win the Year 5 race in emphatic style.


As for the team standings, things have been close over all three races and a similar picture emerged in the last race. It was Bishop Tufnell who had just three seconds in hand over Fishbourne with Downview in third, but all the top teams showed an improvement over their previous times with the top five bettering the winning time of two weeks previously.



There was a similarly high standard in the Primary Girls race with Florence East from Lyndhurst making it a clean sweep in the Year 6 race in front of Lillie Hellyer from Bishop Tufnell, Kitty Bryden from Newbridge and Laila Hellyer, the top four separated by just four seconds after Florence East’s winning time of 4 minutes 50 seconds. With Poppy Tayor from Overton also below the 5-minute barrier with a Year 5 record of 4.55, this year was the first ever to see five girls under 5 minutes.


It was no surprise to see Bishop Tufnell dominate the team competition with Millie Isitt backing up the “Hellyer” twins to set another record of 15.02 for the three runners. Jessie Younghusband were a clear second ahead of Oakwood who narrowly pipped Bosham for third.


Secondary Schools


The pace was fast and furious at the start of the combined Secondary boys’ race with Year 8 trio of Harvey McGuiness from Bishop Luffa, Fionn O’Murchu from St Philip Howard and Hal Edgar from Midhurst Rother pushing the pace at the front of the pack together with previous winner Eddy Purser from Purbrook Park. It was the three local boys who came out on top with Harvey McGuiness having an inspired run to cross the line in 6 minutes 33 seconds, the second fastest time ever with only Chris West ahead on 6.32 set way back in 2003.


There was an equally close scrap in the Year 7 age group with Archie Turner from Worthing finishing in 7.01, one second ahead of Josh Dunne from Bohunt. In the longer four lap Years 9 & 10 race, four athletes broke the coveted 10-minute barrier with Year 9 Joe McLarnon from Ditcham Park fastest of all with 9 minutes 09 followed by Gabryel White from Bishop Luffa while the Year 10 race was won by Jensen Howard from Springfield followed by Archie Sadler from Midhurst Rother.


Team wise it was Midhurst Rother who narrowly won the Year 7 race and Bishop Luffa the Year 8 and combined Years 9 & 10 with St Philip Howard runners-up in all three races



With previous winner Olivia East not running there was a chance for Portsmouth based duo of Natalya Smith and Isabella Bryden to lead the rest home with fellow Year 10 Nicole Boltwood from Felpham CC having her best run of the series in third. Cerys Dickinson from St Philip Howard was first Year 9 in front of Ditcham Park pairing of Emily Dunkly and Bella Digby while Petersfield’s Hattie Bond and Amelie McGurk from Bishop Luffa took the Years 7 and 8 races respectively.


For the teams it was St Philip Howard who came out on top in Year 7 and the combined 9 & 10 age groups with Bishop Luffa strongest in Year 8.


There are new names on the Roll of Honour for this year’s series. Hampshire based training group, MD Solent scooped the top two in both the men’s and women’s categories with Jonathan White leading team mate Sam Charig in the men’s race while unbeaten Cassie Thorp held off Katie Hopkins to emerge as top woman. Bronze medals were won by Worthing’s Jack Woods for the men and Chichester’s promising U17 Maggie King in the ladies.


The main team Corporate award is again going Hampshire-bound to the ever consistent Dstl Porstdown squad with Bosham Primary Staff team worthy winners of the women’s award under the guidance of Polly Neville.