Baker is up to the Butser Hill Challenge again

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James Baker continued his dominance of the Butser Hill Challenge as he powered to a convincing victory on Sunday.

The Chichester athlete won the five-mile senior race in a time of 31min 10sec.

Alex Hamilton, from Basingstoke & Mid Hants, finished second (32.30).

Last year’s runner-up, Julian Manning, from Denmead Striders, had to settle for third place this time around (32.48).

Fay Cripps made it a win double for Chichester as she was the first lady with a time of 36.02 – more than five minutes clear of her nearest rival, Ruth Thom, from City of Salisbury (41.32).

Race director Alan Shons was not surprised to see Baker come out on top again in an event that is certainly one of the most challenging around.

It was Baker’s eighth Butser Hill Challenge victory in the past 10 years.

Shons said: ‘James has got his name on the trophy more times than anybody else.

‘To win it so many times is quite an achievement.

‘He is on form these days, certainly.’

City of Portsmouth’s talented teenager, Matt Smith, won the under-20 title and finished sixth overall in the senior race (33.35).

It was another exceptional performance from the youngster.

Shons believes he could go on to win the senior race in the future.

‘Matt did very well. He’s definitely a rising star,’ said Shons.

‘He’s very talented and hopefully he will carry on with his running. He could be a future winner of the senior race.

‘It’s not an easy course and he seems to be able to pace himself well and compete with the more experienced athletes.’

The junior races are held in school year age groups.

Harry Skinner won the year four race in 4.18, while Jasper Shine, from Churcher’s Junior, took the year five race (4.04).

Louis Fleming, also from Churcher’s College, won the year six-seven race in 8.16, and Joe Chapman, from Ditcham Park, won the year eight-12 race with a time of 14.32.

Overall, entries were up this year and Shons was delighted with the success of the event held at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Conditions were good, although it may have been a little warm for some of the runners.

Shons said: ‘Everything went well from our point of view.

‘The weather couldn’t really have been better. If you were being a bit picky it was possibly a little bit on the warm side.

‘Entries were up on last year so we are pleased about that.

‘Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. They all did well, from the first runner to the last. It is a tough course.

‘The Great South Run is a great challenge, flat and fast.

‘It’s certainly very different to doing the Butser Hill Challenge.

‘This event really does provide a big test.

‘We have to say thanks to all the helpers, all the entrants, and give an enormous thanks to all the marshals.

‘Our sponsors, Churcher’s College, Fuller’s and MacDonald Oates LLP were a great help.’

Money raised from the Butser Hill Challenge will be donated to the Home-Start Butser charity who provide support for families.