Portsmouth will play host to a festival of sport as up to 25,000 people get set to take part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run this weekend.
With four events across two days including the world’s leading 10-mile run, there will be something for all ages and abilities in the south’s biggest running event.
Joining the thousands of participants in Portsmouth will be paralysed fundraiser Claire Lomas MBE who is aiming to walk the 10 mile course over 24 hours in a revolutionary ReWalk suit.
Claire was left paralysed 10 years ago in a horse riding accident and has since dedicated her time to raising funds for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.
Her #10in24 challenge will begin on Saturday 21 October, the day before the event, where she will set off from Clarence Esplanade and take in the exact same route as elite athletes, club runners and charity fundraisers.
She will continue on the route through the night and will cross the finish line with the masses on Sunday at around 11:45am.
The Simplyhealth Great South Run on Sunday starts and finishes in Southsea and features a fast and flat course that has been graced by world-class athletes such as Liz McColgan, Paula Radcliffe, and Sonia O’Sullivan.
Great Britain’s Chris Thompson will defend his Simplyhealth Great South Run title after the 36-year-old scored a memorable victory on the Southsea coast last year.
Thompson prepared in scintillating fashion three weeks ago when he upset the odds to beat Callum Hawkins to the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run half marathon title.
Thompson, a regular at the event in recent years, goes from outsider to favourite with the home support expected to be right behind the Aldershot Farnham and District athlete come Sunday.
In the women’s race, Charlotte Purdue and Gemma Steel will battle it out for honours.
Purdue placed second in the Great Scottish Run after her 13th place in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in London this summer and hopes to follow that up with victory.
Tracy Barlow, who also represented Great Britain over the marathon in this summer’s World Championships, will challenge Purdue and Steel in a largely domestic field.
The event offers the unique opportunity to run through Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, passing iconic landmarks such as HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose Museum.
Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes will be the event’s official starter and will be joined by D-Day war veteran John Jenkins, who is supporting the refurbishment of the city’s D-Day museum.
The event is shown live on Channel 5 from 10am until 12noon and will be presented by Radzi Chinyanganya and Helen Skelton.
The Simplyhealth Great South Run is now in its 28th year and has grown into a packed and inclusive weekend of sport.
The action kicks off on Saturday with the Simplyhealth Great South 5k, where 1,000 runners take on a shorter running route in Southsea.
Former elite athlete Colin McCourt will be running the 5k as part of a bet with his friends to run a sub 16 minute 5k in 2017.
If Colin fails to do this in 2017, he must get all 17 of their names tattooed on his body!
Then 2,000 children will line up on Clarence Esplanade to take part in the Simplyhealth Junior and Mini Great South Run, for kids aged between three to 15 years old.
This year, the biggest children’s running event in the south will have a TV character themed fancy dress competition to celebrate Milkshake! presenters Kemi Majeks and Nathan Connor being the honorary starters.
Commenting, Romana Abdin, CEO of Simplyhealth said: “This weekend will be an amazing celebration, as it’s the last event in the first year of our title partnership with the Simplyhealth Great Run Series.
“More than 250 of our 1,350 employees from four offices in Andover and Winchester will be either running, volunteering or supporting on Saturday and Sunday.
“Since we launched our #millionsmoving campaign in April, over half a million people have been active across the Series, and as part of the first ever Simplyhealth Great Run Day.
“I am in awe of the thousands of children and adults, both disabled and able-bodied, who will walk, run and wheel their way to success on their own terms.”
For more information about the Simplyhealth Great South Run visit: Greatrun.org/South