The Great South Run Returns

Portsmouth’s favourite running event is back

The Great South Run, presented by ExpressTest by Cignpost, will mark a momentous return to Portsmouth on Sunday 17 October. The sold-out event, which was cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions will see over 17,000 runners taking part across its 5K, Junior and Mini and 10-mile challenges this weekend. 

Chief Executive, Paul Foster said “Although necessary, it was so disappointing not to be able to stage last year’s event and we can’t wait to see our runners back on the start line this weekend.

“It’s been two years since we’ve been able to run together, conquer personal goals, raise money and have fun at the Great South Run.  The thrill of being part of a big running event and the unbeatable feeling of crossing the finish line, will be even more special this year.” 

This year’s event will pay tribute to the heroes of the pandemic. The Great South Thank You Campaign, with support of proud partner HSBC, will feature 10 inspirational individuals in a large-scale visual installation.

Four of those heroes, local NHS Staff, will also be the event’s official starters. Emergency Department Matrons Bethan Hutton and Emma Tomkinson, Bereavement Services Manager Karen Roberts, and Physiotherapist Lewis Hope, who work at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, will represent the heroic efforts of all health and care staff in the NHS’s fight against Covid-19 during the pandemic.

Defending champion Eilish McColgan is hoping to wrap up a busy 2021 with another strong performance on the streets of Southsea. She clocked a top 10 finish in the Olympic 10,000m final in Tokyo and a new British Record over 5,000m on the track at the Diamond League in Brussels before turning her attention to the roads.

Eilish became the fastest ever British Half Marathon debutant, when she finished the Great North Run in 67.48 in Newcastle and claimed second place behind World Champion Hellen Obiri. Following pace-making duties at the London Marathon Eilish is now concentrating on finishing her season strongly on the South Coast.

Eilish said “’I’m really excited to be back in Portsmouth for the Great South Run. After it’s cancellation last year, I’m more eager than ever to get on the start line with everyone and can’t wait to be back racing! Hoping for some good weather and a fast time”

The men’s race will be closely contested between 3-time Great South Run Champion, Chris Thompson and fellow Brits Ross Millington, Emile Cairess and Jack Rowe. Although Thompson has the fastest time on paper Cairess put in an impressive debut performance at the Great North Run finishing 5th and will be hoping to better his 3rd place showing at the last edition of the race in 2019.

The Elite runners will be joined by thousands of amateur runners all taking part for their own individual reasons.

A number of those runners joined Thompson and McColgan at Southsea Castle ahead of the event today.

Stephanie Losh had her 4th baby during the first lockdown, after labour she had a cardiac arrest and was given CPR and put into an induced coma. She had to stay in hospital with no visits from loved ones and was unable to leave her room. She suffered 4 months of high blood pressure and had crippling health anxiety. This is her first Great South Run and she has worked hard to recover mentally and physically through regular runs.

Lynsey Hellier is a Royal Naval Nurse running for the Laura Hyde Foundation; a mental health charity set up for Emergency Services personnel. Laura was a friend of hers and fellow nurse; who unfortunately ended her own life after suffering in silence with mental health.

The Solent Stormers, a group of adult runners with learning disabilities, were also in attendance getting ready for their 5K challenge at the Great South 5K on Saturday, which takes place ahead of the Junior and Mini Great South Run.

The ten-mile main event on Sunday takes runners past the Historic Dockyards and the incredible HMS Victory, finishing at the seafront.