The Lord Mayor of Bristol and over 900 university students and staff will be among the 13,000 people who are set to take on their own challenge this weekend at the Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k.

Two of Bristol's academic institutions, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England signed up to encourage staff, students and alumni to get active at the city's annual event, which is taking place on Sunday 5 May.

Many of the Universities entrants are taking part in a running event for the first time and have been guided through training programmes to ensure they are well prepared for tackling the 6.2 mile distance.

The initiative is a first for the event, with places being snapped up by staff, students and alumni and the group will start in one mass red wave, with a sea of maroon and red t-shirts expected from the respective institutions.

Every year thousands of people complete their own challenge for a variety of reasons and joining them this year for the first time is the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Cleo Lake.

Cllr Lake will fire the starting gun on the thousands of club runners, charity fundraisers and 10k-first timers before jumping down and tackling the distance herself with a group of inspiring runners from across the city.

She will be joined on the starters' podium by five times Olympian and World, European and Commonwealth medallist, Jo Pavey. Jo is the event's title sponsor Simplyhealth's new ‘Active Ambassador' and will be taking part in the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Family Run with her children and husband.

Ahead of the event on Sunday, a group of inspiring staff and students from the initiative gathered in Millennium Square to meet Cllr Lake ahead of their first 10k challenge.

Cllr Lake said: “I was inspired by the ‘Bristol Girls Can' movement and wanted to get fitter by training for the 10k whilst also raising funds and awareness for the National Caribbean Monument Charity who wish to erect a monument at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

“Working with local youth music group ACE based at Docklands in St Pauls, we hope to do a music project inspired by a visit to the site so that young people can better understand the longstanding commitment and skills that different communities have contributed to society.

“One of the members of ACE, Hans will also be running the 10k with me to promote the project.”

Among the university's team of runners will be Helen Jones, who works as a senior administrator at the University of Bristol. Helen started running last year with popular local running community This Mum Runs and is set to take on the 10k for the second time this May.

Helen said: “Essentially having generally kept fit pre-kids by going to the gym, post-kids it was hard to find the time, and so I thought I'd give running at go.

“I'd heard about a group call This Mum Runs and thought maybe it would be good to try to join them. I was a bit nervous about my ability at first, having never really run before, so I did a couch to 5k using an app, and then I ventured out to join their social runs.

“Through running, I have made some fantastic new friends and I enjoy running with the groups as well as on my own and trying to push myself to get a bit fitter and faster. I wanted to run with the Varsity group as I love working here and also my best friend works at UWE and will also be running, so I thought that would be fun!”

The Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k forms part of the universities' Varsity Series, which brings thousands of students, staff, alumni and members of the community together to participate, volunteer and spectate at a range of sporting events.

Kirsty Tomlinson, Varsity Events Manager for the two institutions, said: "The Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k is a huge event for the city and we are delighted to be a part of it.

“Initiatives such as this, which will help and encourage our students and staff to get more active, are great for us and exercise helps both physical and mental well-being."

The group will be joining 13,000 people take to the streets of the city, passing some of Bristol's most famous landmarks as they set off from the historic harbour taking in Avon Gorge, the iconic Clifton suspension bridge and the Gothic St Mary Redcliffe Church before finishing back on Anchor Road.

Bambos Neophytou, Brand Director at Simplyhealth, the event's title sponsor, said: “We're really excited to be back in Bristol this weekend for the Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k, Family Run and Wheelchair race.

“From families taking part and getting more active together, to individuals taking on their own person challenges, events like these just go to show what people of all ages and abilities can achieve.

“We're also excited to welcome our new ‘active ambassador', GB long-distance runner, five times Olympian and World, European and Commonwealth medallist, Jo Pavey.

“Mum to two young children and passionate about the importance of families being active together, Jo is a fantastic fit with our purpose, and an ideal advocate for Active Plan and our Simplyhealth Great Run Series campaign.

“Jo will be starting the 10k as well as joining the Family Run with her husband and two young children. We hope to encourage even more people across the UK to be more active, helping them to achieve happier, healthier lives.

“That's why we want our partnership with Diabetes UK to drive positive change to peoples' health and wellbeing, encouraging more people to make healthier choices to reduce the risk of diabetes. So, whether people are taking part in the 10k, Family Run or Wheelchair race we'll be supporting them every step of the way.”

Once the thousands conquer the 10k, the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Family Run will then take place, where hundreds of children take on a one-mile course around Millennium Square with their families.

The event will be started by Wallace and Gromit mascots from the Grand Appeal , the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity, who are the local nominated charity for the Family Run.

For full event information about the Simplyhealth Great Bristol 10k, visit Greatrun.org/bristol10k