DEFENDING champion James Baker continued his domination of the Lakeside 5K series with victory in the opening race of this year’s competition.
The Chichester Runner has an enviable record when it comes to the popular event, previously known as the Promenade 5k.
An unbeaten record last season earned him yet another series win.
And Baker proved again on Wednesday night he’ll take some beating this time as he led the 166-strong field home to cross the finish line in a time of 15min 29sec.
That was 10 seconds quicker than the second-fastest senior man to finish – Mark Greenwood, from Aldershot Farnham & District, who clocked a time of 15.39.
Meanwhile, his ADF team-mate, Richard Batchelor, was third home in that category in 16.46 to put their side in a strong position for the newly-created Inter-Club Challenge crown.
Mark Le Gassick did his best to put Stubbington Green Runners in the mix as he completed the course around 1000 Lakeside in 16.35 to finish third overall and claim the honour of the first VM40 runner home.
And he was well supported by 16-year-old club-mate Thomas MacSwayne (16.44), who continued his impressive start to 2013 by securing fourth spot overall and become the first junior athlete to cross the finishing line.
Second in the junior category went to City of Portsmouth’s Rory Bevis (16.59), with his younger brother Ethan – a second-placed finisher in this year’s Hampshire Cross Country Championships – securing third in a time of 17.17.
Portsmouth Joggers’ Ronnie Adams was the first VM50 runner back in 17.07 – an impressive time that earned him eighth place overall.
Meanwhile, Guildford & Godalming AC’s Rosie Hiles claimed victory in the senior women’s race in 17.39.
City’s Emma Montiel, fresh from running two personal bests in the Southern Athletics League last weekend, was second (18.07), with the Joggers’ Sandie Howard finishing third (19.40).
This year has also seen the introduction of an under-15 category to the Alexandra Sports & Acacia Active-sponsored series.
And the first winner in that year group was City’s Harry Blay, who finished in 18.29.
He was followed home by Havant AC double act Callum Crook (18.56) and Jack Noble (19.55).
The next race in the five-match series is on Wednesday, May 22, at 7.15pm.
– MARK McMAHON