FOR some families, athletes and fun-runners the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the Great South Run started on Saturday.
Around 4,000 people crossed the finish line of the Great South Run 5k and Mini Great South Run to clapping and cheering from the thousands of spectators who lined the course.
The two races, along with the Junior Run, kicked off a memorable weekend marking 25 years since the first participants put on their running shoes.
On Saturday, professional athletes, people in costumes and runners of all ages completed the 5k race along Southsea seafront with proud family members and friends waiting for them at the end along with a medal and well-deserved pat on the back.
For some of the runners it was their first time taking on a long-distance run while others were trying to beat previous personal bests.
But for all competitors, crossing the finish line gave them immense pride whether they were in bright tutus, animal costumes and big wigs or in their usual running gear.
Josh Lawrence, from Portsmouth, was forced to wear a white chicken suit for the 5k route.
The 29-year-old was on his stag-do and managed to complete the race in 35 minutes.
His friends joined him by dressing in yellow chicken outfits.
Josh said: ‘I have done the Great South Run before so I knew I would be okay completing the 5k race.
‘But I got really hot in the suit. I was surprised I managed to complete it so quickly.’
Many of the 5k runners were raising money for charity, ranging from national charities like Cancer Research UK to local organisations.
David and Sarah Kinsella, their son Michael and fellow runner Michelle Green were fundraising for the Portsmouth Downs Syndrome Association.
Michelle, from Portsmouth, said: ‘The charity is my friend’s so I was keen to raise money for them through the 5k race.
‘I did it last year too so it was good doing it again.’
Michael was running for the first time. He said: ‘It was great.
‘People clapping and cheering definitely made it easier.’
Dressed in bright purple tops and tutus, the ladies from Premier Inn stood out in their efforts to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London.
The hospital is the Premier Inn’s charity of the year and they have been fundraising for it since March.
Abigail Williams, Jenny Shepherd, Jenna Kerley, Lidia Tisza and Zoe Proctor-Farrier work for Premier Inns in Fareham, Gosport and Southsea.
Abigail said: ‘It was great being able to complete the race for such a good cause.
‘I found it quite hard while others found it a bit easier but everyone did really well.
Jenny added: ‘It was a lot of fun to do it together.’
After the 5k race, children got the chance to get a medal of their own with the Mini Great South Run.
Hundreds of kids were joined by their parents, siblings and friends to run the 1.5km route.
Other family members watched on from the sidelines cheering them on from the start of the race, to the final leg and across the line.
Some of the kids swapped their official pink and green shirts for fancy dress costumes including super-heros, witches and princesses.
Many ran ahead of their parents keen to reach the finish line while others were encouraged to continue going the whole way by their accompanying adult.
Brothers Harry and Stanley Head, aged eight and five, crossed the finished line together with their dad Paul.
The pair, from Stubbington, decided to run after hearing Paul was running the 5k.
Stanley said: ‘We didn’t stop running the whole way. It was really fun.’
Harry added: ‘I was puffed out by the end of it. I did it last year too so this is my second medal.’
Twins run race for dad
TWINS Nina and Thomas Wild were full of excitement after completing the Mini Great South Run.
The five-year-olds were raising money in memory of their dad James who died last year from lung problems.
They were joined at the finish line by proud family members including their aunties Sammi and Lauren who ran the Great South Run yesterday in memory of their brother who was born with lung problems. James has two lung transplants last year but died aged 29.
Nina said: ‘We were running the race for our dad who is in heaven.
‘It was good but hard.’
Thomas added: ‘It was really fun. The middle bit was the most fun.’
The twins have raised £1,000 for the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital Trust where their dad was treated.
Sammi, 25, from Fareham, said: ‘We are all really proud of Nina and Thomas for doing the race.
‘They did really well and completed it in 11 minutes which was fantastic.’
Sammi and Lauren decided to take part in the Great South Run because it fell on the one year anniversary of James’ death. So far, they have raised £3,500.
Wife keeps Andrew going
DETERMINATION and love for his wife got Andrew Crate round the course of the 5k race.
Andrew finished the race in his wheelchair in 43 minutes even after the additional front wheel broke.
The 43-year-old, from North End, took part in the race to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support after his wife Jenny had breast cancer.
She went along to watch him complete the race along the seafront with thousands of other competitors.
Andrew said: ‘I wanted to do the race for myself but also for my wife. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and raise money for Macmillan.
‘It is the first time I have done it and I thought it would take longer.
‘I was really happy with finishing it in 43 minutes.’
He added: ‘When I started the race, I had a front wheel to help make it easier but it broke off quite early on.
‘I carried on going though but just took my time because I really wanted to finish it.’
Andy managed to raise £300 for Macmillan.
Alice is inspired to run by mum who battled cancer
WITH her mum and dad watching on with pride, Alice MacBain crossed the finish line of her first long-distance race with big smiles.
Alice, a student at Portsmouth Grammer School, decided to run in the 5k Race to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Her mum, Pippa, had breast cancer when Alice was in Year 3 and this spurred her on to finish the race in 40 minutes.
Alice, from Petersfield, said: ‘My mum having breast cancer when I was younger inspired me to enter the race.
‘The work Cancer Research UK do is amazing and if they keep doing it, then maybe other families won’t have to go through what we went through.
‘I just wanted to raise as much as I could for them because they help so many people.’
So far, Alice has raised £200 for the charity.
She added: ‘This was my first long-distance run so I thought it would be really hard. But the race was actually easier than what I thought it would be. It was really enjoyable.’
Pippa said: ‘I am really proud of what Alice achieved. She had a horrible cold just before but she still did it.’
Sunday Great South Run coverage