Baker and Clay win superb Portsmouth Joggers’ Summer XC

James Baker won the Summer XC

James Baker won the Summer XC

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James Baker powered clear of his rivals to win another Summer XC title.

The Chichester athlete completed the challenging course, of nearly five miles, in a time of 27min 58sec at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Petersfield on Wednesday.

Petersfield triathlete Rachel Clay was first lady

Petersfield triathlete Rachel Clay was first lady

Julian Manning led Denmead Striders to the men’s team prize as he finished second in 28.50, with club-mate Jon Sullivan crossing the line third with a 31.31 time.

The ladies’ title went to Petersfield triathlete Rachel Clay (35.39).

Naouele McHugh, from host club Portsmouth Joggers, finished second lady in 39.13 and helped Portsmouth Joggers win the ladies’ team prize.

Lorraine Treadwell crossed the line third with a time of 39.33.

Fareham Crusaders, Victory, Portsmouth Triathletes, Hatch Warren and Liss were among the other clubs with good numbers.

Baker was pleased to take his 10th Summer XC title.

He said: ‘I like the course, it suits my running style because I’m quite good downhill. I can sprint the downhills and run steady up the hills.

‘Julian went out hard like he has been recently but I gradually caught him up and then pulled clear.

‘This is my 10th win here. They had their biggest field and it is a nice place to run. You get a lot of people cheering at the end.’

Race director Kiernan Easton and his team of volunteers ensured the popular race was a great success.

The plan is now to make it even bigger next year.

‘I’m really pleased. Everybody seemed to enjoy it,’ said Easton.

‘The first three finishers were as predicted.

‘There is good rivalry between James Baker and Julian Manning and a mutual respect between the two of them. Jon Sullivan really pulled it out the bag as well.

‘Pompey ladies’ team won as predicted and Denmead took the second.

‘Rachel Clay finished first lady and she’s an age-grade Great Britain athlete in triathlon, so it’s not really a surprise. I’m really pleased for her.

‘It was a really, really good event. Denmead cleaned the board on the men’s prizes.

‘We had people waiting before the start for places, so we are definitely going to up the numbers next year.’

The race also proved a good social occasion, with Horndean catering company RKdia hosting a popular barbecue.

Easton was also pleased to see lots of new runners taking part.

He added: ‘We had some of our couch to 5k graduates from the January intake and others who are new to running.

‘Watching them finish the race with smiles on their faces has been amazing.

‘To get so many people out running and helping on a Wednesday night after work has been brilliant.’

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