TOP TRIO Harry Carter, Cassie Thorp and James Baker are the hot favourites going into tonight’s second race of the Promenade 5k series.
That’s the verdict of race director Gerry North as all three prepare for the exciting Mountbatten Centre event.
Nineteen-year-old City of Portsmouth talent Carter – a runner-up in the 5000m at the recent Hampshire Championships – faces stiff opposition as he lines up against opening race winner Baker, from Chichester Runners, in the men’s event.
Meanwhile City team-mate Thorp, who is coached by North, goes into the women’s race fresh from her impressive showing at the BUPA London 10000 at the weekend.
There, the City ace tested her skills against a world-class field which consisted of eventual winner Jo Pavey and women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe.
And she didn’t let herself down, recording a time of 35mins 13secs to claim a highly-creditable 14th-place finish in the capital.
It’s that sort of form that has seen the 23-year-old rise up the UK rankings – and North believes Thorp will continue to make an impression on her latest outing tonight.
‘She did exceptionally well (at the BUPA 10k), ran brilliantly,’ said North.
‘Cassie was up there with the full internationals for most of it, so she did brilliantly.
‘She’s now doing the Promenade 5k again and I don’t think the girl who beat her last time, Ceri Mitchell, is running.
‘So she should win it.’
Carter will need to run close to Baker’s winning time of 15.21 if he is to taste glory in the men’s race.
That could be a key battle, with North non-committal on who he thinks will come through victorious.
‘For the men, it will be the same two who were at the top last year, James and Harry,’ he said.
‘They are the two leading men without doubt.’
Baker will be looking for a repeat performance when he returns to Portsmouth to defend his opening race win.
He’s wary of the threat Carter poses but is confident he can add to the four victories he secured last season.
‘It was a really good run last time out,’ said Baker.
‘This time, though, I think Harry’s going to be up there.
‘He was second in the Hampshire Championships recently, despite looking a bit off-colour at the start, so he’s going to be challenging.
‘That would be nice – I seem to run well with that sort of pressure.
‘Also, it’s quite cool in the evenings around there and it all just seems to suit me.
‘I won four of the five races last year but missed the fourth one because I came down sick the night before.
‘Hopefully, I can win all five this year.’