THOUSANDS of runners will take to the streets of Portsmouth tomorrow – but the next generation of runners have been showing off their skills in the city centre already.
Yesterday, more than 100 students took part in their own Great South Run in Guildhall Square, called the Great School Sprint, organised by Bupa.
The 60m running track was laid out in Guildhall Square to give Year 7 pupils and university students the chance to compete in their own sprint challenge.
Tom Labender is one of the organisers from Nova International.
He said: ‘It’s a great way to start the weekend for the Great South Run.
‘It’s something different and unique. It might inspire some of the young people who are taking part to think about signing up to their local athletics club.
‘It’s incredibly popular. The idea of bringing it to a city centre location where members of the public can come and watch them on a track looks good and feels good for everybody around.’
Before they competed, the Year 7 pupils had the chance to meet and work with Great Britain sprinter Harry Aikines-Aryeetey.
He said: ‘It’s awesome. It’s very important to inspire the next generation. Look at the Olympics and what it did to our sport.’
Dan Rackley, a PE teacher at Priory School in Southsea, said: ‘It’s great because it’s going to raise the profile for the kids of the Great South Run.
‘It raises awareness of the city as well, especially as it’s such a prominent location. The kids absolutely loved it. It’s something out of the ordinary.’
Year 7 pupil Sophie Sullivan, 11, said: ‘It’s quite a good thing to do. It’s good to do in teams. I find running quite fun.’
Will Cudlip, 11, also in Year 7, added: ‘I’m proud to represent the school. I enjoy running. From this you get a bit more confidence as well.’
Students from Cams Hill in Fareham, Brune Park and Bay House Schools in Gosport and St Edmund’s Catholic School in Portsmouth were also involved.
Students competed in heats, semi-finals and finals to find the fastest pupils, with the fastest boy and fastest girl being invited to compete for Portsmouth in the national finals next spring.