For more information about the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit Greatrun.org/South

Portsmouth will play host to more than 20,000 people this weekend as competitors line up for the 30th Simplyhealth Great South Run.

With four events across two days including the world's leading 10-mile run, there will be something for all ages, abilities and even man's best friend as part of the south's biggest running event, with the 10-mile event shown live on Channel 5 from 10am until 12noon.

The first ever Great South Run took place in 1990, and to help remember when it all began, two favourites from the world of family entertainment in the 1990s will be stepping up as honorary starters – TV presenter Timmy Mallett and Diane Youdale, more famously known as Jet from Gladiators.

Timmy Mallett was a staple of children's television through the 80s and 90s and in 1990 when the Great South Run was conceived, he had the number one music single all over the world with his recording of Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. 

Timmy said “I'm really excited to be a part of the 30th Simplyhealth Great South Run. The amazing runners doing it for charity are amazing, more than £3.5 million is raised for charity by people taking part every year. I took on my own physical challenge last year to raise awareness of reaching your potential, when I cycled over 3500 km across three countries. So, I know that while it might be hard at times, the sense of achievement and pride runners will feel when they cross the finish line is well worth it.” 

Diane was a favourite of Saturday night family TV viewing in her role as feisty Gladiator, Jet. The show hit TV screens in October 1992 and celebrated its 27th anniversary this year. Diane has continued to work in health and fitness since leaving the show as a fitness consultant while also adding another string to her bow by becoming a trained psychotherapist.

Diane said: “Fitness and sport has always been a big part of my life but I've learned now how connected everything is and that staying active is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health, so it's great to see more than 20,000 people pulling on their running shoes and setting out to achieve their goals.

“I'm really pleased to be invited to celebrate 30 Great South Runs and the half a million people who have crossed this finish line over the years. Whether it's the first time or the 30th time they have participated, everyone who takes part today should be proud of their achievement.” 

Elite competition hots up

Chris Thompson is gunning for a Simplyhealth Great South Run first when he defends his title at the ten-mile race in Portsmouth at the weekend.

The 38-year-old completed a hat-trick last year as he won three consecutive Great South Runs - and this year will be aiming to be the only athlete to take the title four times in the race's 30-year history.

Also lining up in the men's race is 2019 British 10,000m champion, Ben Connor, 2014 European 10,000 silver medallist Andy Vernon and 2017 & 2018 National 5,000m champion Alex Teuten.

Fresh from the IAAF World Championships in Doha, where she broke the Scottish record over 5,000m Eilish McColgan will be back on the South coast to defend her Simplyhealth Great South Run title. Eilish is aiming for a repeat performance in only her second 10-mile race.

McColgan will go up against two distance running heavyweights in Gemma Steel and Alyson Dixon.

Steel is no stranger to Portsmouth having won in 2017. She warmed up for Simplyhealth Great South Run with a strong run in the recent Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run 10K race in Glasgow.

Alyson Dixon has tasted success in the last weeks, having broken two world records in the space of eight days. Dixon took victory in 50k at the World Championship in Romania where she broke the world record time by over a minute and at the Simplyhealth Great North Run she set a Guinness world record for running a half marathon as a superhero.

Inspirational runners

The thousands of runners will be motivated by 15 entertainment and cheer points across the course that is packed with everything from live bands to charity buses and DJs. 

Among the runners setting themselves the challenge of completing the 10-mile run is 24 year old Harley Salter. Harley is running the Simplyhealth Great South Run after completing his 10 Missions Possible challenge earlier this year to raise funds for Enable Ability.

Harley had his right foot amputated last year and walks with the aid of an Alinker three-wheeled walking bike. He has completed abseils down the iDrop i360 in Brighton and Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, a zip wire in Wales, and many more, raising £1,300 for charity.

Olympic 400m sprinter Iwan Thomas will be stretching his legs over the longer distance close to his home turf of Southampton. While Thomas is a regular at the event, he has a much more personal reason for running this year, using it to raise awareness of the dangers of Group Strep B infection in infants. 

In December 2012 Thomas welcomed his first child, Teddy, into the world. Shortly after birth Teddy was taken into intensive care after having breathing difficulties, where he was diagnosed with a Group Strep B infection. Thomas now works to raise awareness of the disease and for the charity Group Strep B Support. 

Saturday 

The Simplyhealth Great South Run has grown into a packed and inclusive weekend of sport, with four other running events taking place the day before on Saturday 19 October.

Saturday's events will once agian kick off with the Simplyhealth Canine Run. More than 100 dogs and their human companions will take on a 2.5km course, starting and finishing on Clarence Esplanade.

Up to 1,000 runners will also line up to take on their own shorter distance at the Simplyhealth Great South 5k. 

Then thousands of 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.

Jayne Fearn from Simplyhealth, said: ““We're delighted to be in Portsmouth for the 30th Simplyhealth Great South Run this weekend. Whether you're training for your first event, working towards a PB, walking or jogging, Simplyhealth will be supporting runners every step of the way, encouraging them to enjoy happier, healthier lives by being more active. 

This year, we're proud to have Diabetes UK as our official charity partner for the Series. Our partnership enables us to continue our great work in supporting people with their health; encouraging as many people as possible to become more active to reduce the risks of developing conditions such as diabetes. Good luck to everyone taking part. We look forward to seeing you at the finish line to celebrate your amazing achievements.” 

Celebrating its 30th staging, the Simplyhealth Great South Run on Sunday starts and finishes in Southsea and features a fast and flat course that celebrates everything that's great about the city.

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit Greatrun.org/South