Great South Run competitors lace up trainers for good causes

Last year's Great South Run
Last year's Great South Run

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Thousands of people are gearing up to take part in this year’s Great South Run.

The event, dubbed the world’s best 10-mile race, returns to Southsea on Sunday.

Lizzie Printer Picture: Tony Lister

Lizzie Printer Picture: Tony Lister

As well as the main race, there will be a junior, a mini and a 5k race taking place tomorrow.

Hundreds of people are using the races as an opportunity to raise cash and awareness for a variety of good causes.

One of the most inspirational stories is that of teenage sailor Natasha Lambert, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

The 19-year-old has made a name for herself as a multi-award winning sailor, controlling her yacht by using only her mouth. She will take on the 5k race to raise awareness of disabilities in the sport.

Molly Hopes, who is running the Junior Great South Run for Hannah's Holiday Home

Molly Hopes, who is running the Junior Great South Run for Hannah's Holiday Home

Natasha was born with cerebral palsy, relies on the use of her frame to stand and walk and will complete the event with the device, along with a team of supporters including her mum Amanda.

She will begin the event an hour early so she can finish alongside 1,000 others.

Amanda, who is a trustee of Natasha’s charity, Miss Isle School of Sip-Puff Sailing on the Isle of Wight, said: ‘Natasha is a happy, fun loving, tenacious teenager, who loves adventure, socialising, and helping others.

‘Tash hasn’t been able to help with things like making a cup of tea or tidying her room, but has found a way of actively helping in society by fundraising, using her sailing and walking.

Natasha Lambert

Natasha Lambert

‘The event will be particularly difficult for Natasha as she will be in front of crowds of people and her muscles can spasm with tension making it hard to move effectively. It will be a huge achievement for her if she can finish it with everyone watching.’

Another inspirational woman preparing to strap on her running shoes is Portsmouth resident Lizzie Printer, who is partially-sighted.

Lizzie, 51, runs with a white cane and she will take on the 10-mile race on Sunday.

She has homonymous hemianopia which is a loss of visual field, meaning that she is completely blind in the left field of each eye.

She suffered a brain haemorrhage and stroke in 2011, leaving her in a coma for two weeks with a 10 per cent chance of survival. When she came round, Lizzie was paralysed down her left side, and had lost more than half of her sight.

After several weeks in hospital, she went home in a wheelchair and began the process of rehabilitation with the support of family and friends, as well as Royal National Institute of Blind People and the Stroke Association.

Lizzie says: ‘I’ve always been a keen runner, and after I returned home from hospital, I remember watching the Great South Run in my wheelchair, just wishing I was taking part.

‘At that stage, I was paralysed and unable to even walk, but it spurred me on and pushed me to get back on my feet.

‘I’ve taken it slowly, building up gradually and getting used to running with my white cane, and now I can’t wait to lace up my trainers and cross that start line.

‘Running has been a huge part of my recovery and rehabilitation, and so this is the perfect way for me to take on a challenge whilst supporting RNIB who have been there for me since my stroke.’

Lizzie aims to raise £1,500 which will be shared between RNIB and the Stroke Association.

And it’s not just adults taking part for good causes. Five-year-old Molly Hopes is raising money for Hannah’s Holiday Home and Action Medical Research.

Molly, who goes to College Park Infant School, will compete in the junior race, accompanied by her father Craig Hopes, who will also run the 10-mile race on Sunday.

She was inspired to help send children with life-limiting illnesses on holiday, and she has raised more than £275 so far.

Craig, from North End, said: ‘She’s done so well. We’re very proud.’