A day that Portsmouth can truly be proud of

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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As ever, it was a tremendous weekend that saw feats of supreme athleticism alongside inspirational efforts that may have been less impressive on the clock, but were breathtaking when seen in the flesh.

For an example of the former, see how the veteran elite woman Jo Pavey destroyed the field to take the women’s title, and also the world-class sprint finish at the end of the men’s event.

And for examples of the latter – well, you were spoilt for choice.

Take Natasha Saunders, who is on our front page. Natasha was seriously ill with meningitis, which was then passed on to her newborn son Finley, who almost died. However, the care she received saved the pair of them and so, to say thank you, she ran for the Meningitis Trust yesterday, and was delighted to be greeted by Finley at the finish line.

Elsewhere, marvel at the endurance of navy officer Ian Fleming, who took three days to finish the course in a 200lb diving suit.

As well as those who enjoy running as a sport, everywhere you looked there was someone putting themselves through pain to help someone else, and this mix of the athletic, the first-timer and the have-a-go, fundraising, community-minded participant is one of the things that make the Great South Run so special.

But one of the other factors is the support that lines the streets. Bands of all descriptions come out to keep runners’ spirits up; ad hoc sound systems appear in people’s windows – the Chariots of Fire theme music coming from on high in Old Portsmouth High Street is a perennial favourite – and front gardens; and there is clapping and cheering all the way round, including kind-hearted youngsters handing out chocolate bars at Canoe Lake yesterday.

All this noisy and welcome support is recognition of how lucky we are to host this event – the valuable memories it brings are easily worth the fleeting hassle of a few closed streets and unusually heavy Sunday traffic.

And as well as that, we know that all the runners will agree that, as shown again yesterday, they are lucky to have Portsmouth people cheering them on.