Jo Pavey and Andy Vernon will return to Portsmouth for Great South Run

Double-winner Jo Pavey is returning to Portsmouth for the Great South Run. Picture: Allan Hutchings

Double-winner Jo Pavey is returning to Portsmouth for the Great South Run. Picture: Allan Hutchings

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European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey has signed up for the 26th edition of the Morrisons Great South Run on Sunday, October 25.

She will be joined by Andy Vernon, who will return to the south coast to compete in his home race in Portsmouth.

For Pavey, the world’s leading 10-mile running event will be a stepping stone towards her long-term goal of challenging for a fifth successive Olympic appearance in 2016.

The 41-year-old Exeter Harrier decided to run only one track race in 2015, finishing seventh in the European Cup 10,000m race in Italy, in June.

That has allowed her to concentrate on road running, before preparing to push for Olympic selection next year.

‘I’m really excited to get out there and race in the Morrisons Great South Run again,’ said Pavey, who won the Portsmouth event in 2006 and 2012.

The crowd support is great. The people of Portsmouth really get behind the event

Jo Pavey

‘It’s such a great course and it’s got an amazing reputation, as the only 10-mile running event in the world that has IAAF Gold Label status.

‘To run a 10-mile race on such a fantastic course is just a brilliant opportunity.

‘It attracts really top athletes because it’s got such a good reputation.

‘The crowd support is great. The people of Portsmouth really get behind the event.

‘It’s a scenic course and I love the challenge of running along by the seafront at the end. It’s a brilliant event.’

Pavey admits it will be tough to make it a hat-trick of wins on the south coast.

She added: ‘It’s difficult to say if it will be harder for me to win it this year.

‘We’ll see how the training goes. I want to get out there and run well.

‘It will be different this year. I’ve taken a step back and I’m enjoying my running.

‘I was pleased with my decision not to aim to challenge for selection for the World Championships because I’m really focused on my goal of trying to qualify for a fifth Olympics.

‘It’s fantastic having an event like the Morrisons Great South Run to aim for because you need to have goals.

‘I’m excited this year to have the opportunity to do a bit of road racing with deciding not to do a track season.

‘It’s enjoyable to be able to do these mass events, running with loads of other runners. It’s always a pleasure to be in a big race.’

Vernon was a double medal winner at the European Championships in Zurich a year ago, taking silver in the 10,000m and bronze in the 5000m.

However, the 29-year-old, from Fareham, has been controversially overlooked for the British team for this year’s World Championships.

That’s despite improving his 10,000m lifetime best to 27min 42.62sec – putting him 13th on the UK all-time ranking list.

Vernon was the top British finisher in the Great South Run in 2013 and he finished 12th overall in 2014.

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