Fast and furious return for Lakeside 5k

James Baker, centre. Picture: Malcolm Wells (133287-1167)
James Baker, centre. Picture: Malcolm Wells (133287-1167)
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Champion Piotr Meller with duathlon organiser Rob Piggot.  Picture: Neil Marshall (170306-18)

Defending champion ready for Portsmouth Duathlon mission

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Personal bests are set to tumble as the Lakeside 5k Series returns tonight (7.15pm).

A slightly-revised course is likely to see faster times in the popular competition.

There will be a silence in memory of Gerry North – who was involved in the series from its inception – before the flag falls and racing begins.

Last year’s overall individual winner James Baker will be out to repeat his winning streak.

The Chichester Runners talent successfully defended his crown with a typically dominant display in 2013 and is in no mood to release his grip on the silverware.

Rosie Hiles took the ladies’ title last summer.

And while the Guildford & Godalming athlete has returned to university, she may compete in later races in a bid to keep hold of the honour.

Rob Ward and Emma Montiel are likely to head the City of Portsmouth challenge, while Havant’s Matt Gordon is also likely to feature towards the front.

The individual prize list for the series winners has been increased with categories from under-15 to over-80 and an under-17 category for the first time.

Several of the age-group winners from 2013 are entered – including Jane Harrop (W50), Sylvia Timms (W75), Mark Le Gassick (M40), Noel O’Dowd (M55) and Bill Davies (M80).

City of Portsmouth were comfortable winners of the Alexandra Sports Inter-Club Challenge last season – with Stubbington Green taking second spot. Pre-entries suggest it will be a closer competition this year, though.

And with an increased prize list, featuring awards for the top eight clubs, some of the smaller outfits will have everything to fight for.

Race director, Peter Newton, said: ‘The series is a great opportunity for runners of all abilities and ages to test themselves over 5k and measure their improvement over several races.

‘Last year the youngest competitor was 11 and the oldest 82 and we expect similar this year.’

Runners can register at Hilsea Lido (6pm to 7pm).