They’re off – Great South Run aims to smash all records

(l-r) Jo Pavey,  Madeleine Spice (12) , John Altman and Dee Thresher help launch the Great South Run 2011 at Southsea Castle, Southsea.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (110214-499)
(l-r) Jo Pavey, Madeleine Spice (12) , John Altman and Dee Thresher help launch the Great South Run 2011 at Southsea Castle, Southsea. Picture: Allan Hutchings (110214-499)

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ORGANISERS of the world’s top 10-mile road race are aiming to smash more records in Portsmouth this autumn.

At the launch of the 2011 Bupa Great South Run, race director Colin Goater said indications were good that 24,000 runners would compete in the annual event through city streets on Sunday, October 30. Portsmouth City Council has just agreed to host the event for a further two years.

Mr Goater said: ‘We had a record 22,500 entrants last year which was fantastic.

‘We’re expecting 24,000 this year and we’re now looking at extending the field to 25,000.

‘Portsmouth just gets better and better.’

The launch at Southsea Castle yesterday was attended by actor John Altman, 58, famous for his role as ‘Nasty’ Nick Cotton in EastEnders.

He told The News: ‘I’m hoping to take part if my dodgy knee allows. I’m a keen runner and I really hope to tackle the Great South Run this year especially as I’ve done it twice before.’

If the actor makes the starting line he will be raising money for Alzheimer’s Society which is Bupa’s nominated charity.

He said: ‘My dad had dementia and I also have a very close friend who’s in his fifties, so only a bit younger than me, who also has it. So I know it’s a really cruel disease and know all about the devastating impact it has on families.’

October’s race will be the 20th to be run on the famous course which takes in Southsea seafront and the Historic Dockyard.

Another celebrity hoping to make the start line is GMTV fitness trainer Dee Thresher.

She said: ‘Most people want to get a little fitter and tone up after Christmas and signing up for the Great South Run is a fantastic way to maintain your motivation.

Jo Pavey, 37, who won the women’s event in 2006, hopes to make a return after missing last year through injury.

She said: ‘It is a fast, flat course which really suits my style of running.’

Meanwhile 12-year-old Madeleine Spice, of Woolmer Street, Emsworth, who completed last year’s junior event and raised £600 as a tribute to her grandfather John Stanley, from Portchester, said: ‘I’m running for Granfer and to raise funds to fight dementia.’