Entries for the 30th Simplyhealth Great South Run are open. Be part of the story and enter at: Greatrun.org/South

Lizzy Yarnold, Britain's most decorated Winter Olympian, joined a group of runners from the past, present and future of the Simplyhealth Great South Run to kick off the event's 30th anniversary.

Lizzy, who claimed her first skeleton Olympic gold medal at Sochi in 2014 and retained her Olympic crown in PyeongChang, was the event's honorary starter last year and has been inspired to take on the 10-mile challenge.

The Simplyhealth Great South Run, which takes place on Sunday 20 October, has grown from humble beginnings in 1990, with 2,000 runners to over 20,000 people taking part in the world's leading 10-mile run in Portsmouth.

The group met at Emirates Spinnaker Tower, which provides the iconic backdrop before the second mile of the event where runners are given special access to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

She said: “I'm really excited to be able to return to Portsmouth to be a part of an amazing sporting weekend like the Simplyhealth Great South Run on a milestone year for the event.

“Last year I cheered on the thousands of people taking part and was left feeling very inspired to take part in October.

“I'm ready for a new chapter, I believe there is something out there for everyone and if you put your mind to it, with hard work, something you love will find you as well.”

Lizzy, who lives in Shedfield in Hampshire, joined veteran runners who have taken part in every Great South Run in its 30-year history, along with some who are returning following a break in their running and others taking on the 2019 event for the very first time.

Among them was Gerard Beauvoisin, from Portsmouth, who has taken part in every Great South Run since the first event in 1990.

Gerard started running in 1987 as a challenge between himself and his two brothers. He has made sure the event is a must-do in his calendar each year, despite going through ten major operations to remove a tumour, after it ate away half of his jaw.

Gerard even postponed one operation in 2012 to make sure he was on the start line with thousands of others.

Gerard said: “In 2011 I felt a strange feeling in my right cheek. I went to the hospital because I thought I'd had a stroke. Then in 2012 I saw my dentist, who sent me straight to the hospital where they found a benign tumour that had eaten away half my jaw. They called it Ameloblastoma.

“I was due to have the operation to remove it, but I postponed it due to it being too close to the Great South Run and my daughter's graduation. In November, I finally had an operation where they removed the tumour and half my jaw and replaced it with part of my hip bone.

“I have spent the last seven years having another ten operations, but still don't have proper teeth, only denture type ones. Hopefully this year, I will be getting computer generated teeth.

“As a competitive runner, I started out to get under the hour, which I achieved and got close to a few times. As the years have gone on it's been more about taking part, but I still try to get the fastest time I can.

“Running 10 miles can be daunting, but the atmosphere is great. It gives you a boost as the crowd shout motivating sayings and give out high fives.”

‘Touchline' Tony Male is a familiar face to Portsmouth FC fans and participants of the Simplyhealth Great South Run alike, having taken part in almost every event.

He's used the event to raise over £400,000 for more than 20 charitable causes since his first run in 1990.

Dawn Dunsterville, from Fareham, is gearing up for her third Simplyhealth Great South Run. She took up running in 2015 with her husband Adrian and managed to lose six stone.

Before then she was a size 24 and weighed around 18 stone and knew she had to do something to change her lifestyle.

Dawn and Adrian took up exercise and started recording everything they ate and by the end of the year, they had each shed six stone. After losing both her parents to heart disease, she will be running the event for the British Heart Foundation.

Cheryl Skedgel-Hill, from Gosport, is taking part in the 10-mile event for the first time. She had originally signed up to last year's event but was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

Now with her treatment over, she aims to run this year's event as another personal milestone in her recovery.

Cheryl said: “Doctors found a malignant tumour during a mammogram check and I then started chemotherapy on my birthday. I lost all of my hair and was devastated but I tried to remain strong.

“I was given time out from hospital to watch my family run the event last year so when I finished radiotherapy a week after I made it my mission to complete the 2019 event.

“I've started training and I feel amazing and so many people have told me they've been inspired to take up running after hearing my story.

“I wanted to take back control. I wanted to feel strong and empowered and longed to have a sense of achievement that within a year of completing cancer treatment I was running events at 55.”

Every year, Portsmouth becomes a sea of runners who take on the challenge of a 10-mile event with thousands of others, no matter what their pace or motivation.

Runners experience an event like no other as they take in the sights of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Emirates Spinnaker Tower before crossing the finish line on the sea front, overlooking the Solent.

Over the last 30 years, up to 400,000 people have crossed the finish line of the Simplyhealth Great South Run and the event has now grown into a packed weekend of sport, which also includes the Simplyhealth Great South 5k and the Simplyhealth Junior and Mini Great South Run.

Among the participants of last year's 5k was the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Lee Mason, who took part to encourage a healthier and more active lifestyle in the city.

Philippa Brock, communications director at The Great Run Company, said: “This is a very exciting year for the Simplyhealth Great South Run. Not only are we celebrating a huge milestone, but we're also looking back at thirty years of running memories for thousands of runners who have been part of the story.

“The Simplyhealth Great South Run has a very loyal following in the running community and it shows that this is something for all abilities; whether you're a beginner taking part for the first time, a charity fundraiser or someone looking to seize the challenge and get a personal best on a fast course.”

Bambos Neophytou, Brand Director, Simplyhealth, said: “2019 will see a Simplyhealth Great South Run like no other - as, together, we celebrate 30 years of one of the largest running events past, present and future.

 “Featuring the world's leading 10-mile run, mini and junior runs and, for the second year running, The Simplyhealth Canine Run, the weekend will be an opportunity to applaud the people of all ages and abilities who'll be taking part.

“Whether running, jogging or walking, Simplyhealth will be supporting runners and their families every step of the way with our Active Plan, post event massage, gait analysis and stretch zone. We're proud to have Diabetes UK as our official charity partner of the Simplyhealth Great Run Series 2019.

"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 and we look forward to seeing you at the finish line to celebrate your achievement.”

Entries for the 30th Simplyhealth Great South Run are open. Be part of the story and enter at: Greatrun.org/South