JAMES BAKER profited from the generosity of his good friend Chris Zablocki as the duo turned up the heat on their rivals in the D-Day 10k race on Sunday.
The Chichester athletes surged away from the rest of the field after the first mile and with Zablocki’s pedigree, including a marathon time of 2hr 15min 35sec and a 10k of 29.46, he would have been favourite.
But Baker has a dominant grip on the prestigious Portsmouth race and after a chat between the two it became clear he was going to extend his proud record in the event to six wins.
Zablocki, who had a dramatic journey from Poland to get here for the weekend, certainly wasn’t going to gift him an easy cruise to the finish line though.
They both recorded the same time of 33min 28sec but it was Baker who just edged the victory.
Southampton’s Tom Cully took third place with a time of 34.32 after dropping back from going with the Chichester pair in the first mile.
Lesley Locks had a strong run to finish first lady in 36.29, with Emma Jolley, who represents the host club City of Portsmouth taking an excellent second place (37.43).
Baker was pleased to extend his record of wins.
He said: ‘This was my sixth D-Day 10k win. I try to race it most years.
‘Chris Zablocki was staying at my parents’ place for the weekend.
‘We trained together before but I hadn’t seen him for a while because he has been in Poland.
‘He arrived at 2am on Saturday morning. It was pretty crazy waiting for him to arrive.
‘His plane was delayed, then he hired a car and it was the first time he had driven in England. He got lost on the M25 and ended up driving here via Brighton.
‘We ran the Chichester parkrun on Saturday morning and then went out for a 16-mile run in the evening.
‘So we were both a bit tired going into the D-Day race on Sunday.
‘I led for the first part, then I said to Chris to go ahead if he wanted to but I think he must have been tired. It was quite a journey he had.
‘Considering he has broken 30 minutes for 10k it was quite an easy run for him.
‘I’m pretty sure he was tired but he probably wasn’t working as hard as I was.
‘He was happy for me to get the win although he didn’t make it easy for me. I think there was a quarter of a second between us on the chip timing.’
Victory’s Paul Mitchinson continued his strong form to take a good fifth place with an excellent time of 34.44.
Pete Collins, who runs for Portmouth Joggers, also had a good run to make the top 10 with his time of 36.12.
Nikki Moxham did Gosport Road Runners proud as she finished third lady in 39.22 and Victory’s Jackie Lloyd was fourth in 39.39.