DEFENDING D-Day 10k champion James Baker is confident of repeating his victory at Lakeside tomorrow, despite being hampered by injury.
The five-time winner of the event will face strong competition from Hampshire Road Race League leader Julian Manning, of Denmead Striders, and also Chichester Runners & AC team-mate Peter Concannon.
In the ladies’ race, Lakeside 5k winner Ellie Monks will be running, as well as City of Portsmouth’s Emma Williams, Karen Willsher, of Fareham Crusaders, and Alice Bowles, representing Lordshill, tomorrow (10am).
Baker’s injury woes have taken a toll on his recent performances, but he’s adamant he can better his winning time from last year.
‘I came second last weekend in Newbury, which is really disappointing. I’ve suffered from Achilles tendinitis as well, which has made training quite difficult,’ he said.
‘But I fancy my chances this year despite the injury, I’m quite tough!
‘I ran a time of 32.02 earlier this season, which is nearly 40 seconds quicker than I ran last year.
‘I’m feeling confident I can, and will go faster this year.’
A new course has been announced for the 27th edition of the race with much of the old course staying the same but this year the athletes will do two laps around the lake.
Race organiser Peter Newton said: ‘Last year we weren’t able to use the path around the lake because it had recently been relaid which didn’t make it suitable.’
‘It’s suitable this year, so it makes for a far more pleasant course. We’ve used it several times already in the Lakeside 5k and the Hampshire Road Relay Championships. It got the thumbs up, so we’re retaining it.’
Baker is a fan of the new course at Lakeside, North Harbour, Western Road, and says it suits his style of running.
‘It’s a quick course which I like. I’m familiar with it because I’ve run the Lakeside 5k on it, and I also hold the course record for the parkrun, which uses the same layout,’ the 39-year-old said.
The 10k race is the final event in the Hampshire Road Race League, and this year will see around 600 runners taking part, with a lot of the local running clubs represented, including Portsmouth Joggers, Gosport Road Runners, Fareham Crusaders, Stubbington Green and Victory.
Overall it is a decrease in participants from last year, but Newton says that this is inevitable.
‘We had a bumper year last year, so we weren’t expecting numbers to increase on last year,’ he said.
‘A lot of the prize areas have already been resolved (in the league), whereas last year the title was a lot closer.
‘Comparing it to football, if the championship is decided with a couple of games to spare, it has less impact on the rest of the season.’