Up for the Challenge

Chichester Runners' James Baker
Chichester Runners' James Baker
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JAMES BAKER proved no challenge is beyond him as he peaked to claim the 2012 Butser Hill title.

The Chichester Runner, still fresh after winning the Havant Parkrun 5k just 24 hours earlier, completed the testing 4.5-mile course in a superb time of 32mins 14secs to secure a resounding victory.

Undeterred by the weather – which incorporated hail, rain, poor visibility and thunder and lightning – the 35-year-old excelled in the atrocious conditions to beat second-placed runner, Churchers College’s John Franklin (33.12), by over a minute.

Third place went to City of Salisbury’s AC’s Stuart Hollaway (33.29), while last year’s winner, Julian Manning, had to settle for fourth, with the Denmead Striders runner finishing in a time of 35.19.

Havant’s Polly Keen was the first woman to cross the finish line in 36.21.

Meanwhile, the junior categories proved as popular as ever, with over 300 school children defying the conditions in order to say they had completed the Butser Hill Challenge.

Credit must go to all those who completed the various junior courses, while Churchers College’s Seb Kelson (4.45) and City of Portsmouth duo Josie Czura (7.42) and Matt Smith (13.56) will be pleased with their winning times in their respective school-year categories.

In total, over 500 entrants finished the 32nd running of the gruelling event.

Race director Alan Shons paid tribute to all the athletes who took part and the army of volunteers who helped make the race another huge success.

‘The numbers were up on last year, despite the terrible weather, and it’s very pleasing to see how the race has grown,’ said Shons.

‘James Baker did very well to win the seniors’ race. His time of 32 minutes was quite something and showed he’s clearly in good form.

‘But credit goes to everyone for competing in very wet and slippery conditions and the great marshals, helpers and sponsors who make the race such a success.

‘There’s a great army of people who help make it work, while the early signs suggest that over £5,000 will be raised for our chosen charity – the Motor Neurone Disease Association.’