Aldershot's Chris Thompson and Gemma Steel of Charnwood AC were the winners of the Simplyhealth Great South Run at a breezy Clarence Parade, Southsea on Sunday (22 October).
Storm 'Brian' managed a PB in crossing the country in 24-hours but that did not prevent the cancellation of Saturday's Great South Run 5K, Junior and Mini Great South runs on safety grounds.
Sunday dawned bright and clear but it was still very blustery, with the final two miles on the Portsmouth and Southsea seafront set to be a challenge to all of the 20,000 competitors. It was a day to run with the head as much as the heart.
Dame Kelly Holmes had signalled the start before joining the masses to record a respectable 1:10:54 after setting a record for overtaking. The opposite was the case for courageous paraplegic Claire Lomas MBE, who was expected to complete the 10-mile course at 10am today (Monday, 23 October) after a 24-hour continuous journey in her 'bionic' suit. Blind runner Dave Heeley successfully completed his UK quest to run all 25 events in the 2017 Great Run series and now heads off to compete in the Great Ethiopian Run next month.
Chris Thompson (48:32) became the first man in 23 years to successfully defend the Great South Run men's title. He was prominent from the off and was soon forcing the pace with eventual runners-up Matt Sharp (Enfield, 48:35) and Ben Connor (Derby, 48:36). The key moment came in the final mile when Connor's coach shouted encouraging words to his charge that Thompson immediately used as a trigger to find one last effort and he was away.
The women's race was equally intriguing and came down to a battle of wills against the wind. Gemma Steel and Aldershot's Lily Partridge and Charlotte Purdue had prised a few seconds from the pack at 10k, passed in 35:06. Partridge attacked first and went clear before eight miles but Steel had paced her race to perfection and prevailed by 12 seconds in 55:25. Partridge (55:37) and Purdue (55:43) were rewarded with fast times after gutsy runs.
Participants were entertained by 12 bands and cheer points around the 10-mile course for the 28th edition of the Simplyhealth Great South Run. The course passed through Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard with iconic views of HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and Mary Rose Museum.
Early bird entries with 25% discount are available now for next year's event on 20-21 October. To find out more about Great Run visit the event website