THEY all came to make a difference and left bursting with pride.
For the thousands who pulled on their running gear– or fancy dress costumes – the Bupa Great South Run meant so much.
People from all walks of life graced the streets of Portsmouth, each running for a particular cause close to their heart.
And as they crossed the finish line with arms held high, there were tears, shouts of joy, and a huge sense of relief – not to mention tired faces.
Scores of determined fundraisers decided it was a perfect opportunity to come dressed as Darth Vader, Scooby Doo, Batman and Robin, a Power Ranger and even a shoe, for the hugely momentous occasion.
And because it was the 25th anniversary of what is now an internationally-recognised event, you could sense the party atmosphere.
It was also the perfect chance to do some celebrity-spotting.
Outnumbered and Mock the Week star Hugh Dennis powered through the pain of a hamstring injury to ensure he finished at the 80 minute mark.
After the race, he told The News: ‘I’m completely one paced. I can’t go any faster or slower.’
The award for most unusual racing attire would surely have had to go to Craig McMurrough, of Cambridge.
The quirky participant came dressed as a shoe.
He said he was inspired after running the Cambridge half marathon earlier in the year using a spare shoe that someone had dropped.
Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral, David Brindley, swapped the altar for road running and was pleased to come in at the one hour 47 minute mark.
He said: ‘It’s been fantastic. This event draws in people from all over the country, and of course they all get to run past the cathedral on the way.’
Louise Newman, 37, from Havant, ran dressed as a giant pink whoopie cushion to help send a Leigh Park man for life-saving cancer treatment.
She said: ‘I’m running for Andy’s Army as my friend’s brother, Andy Prowting, needs cancer treatment so we’re raising money to help him.’
And army corporal Tom Smith, who is based in Bordon, near Petersfield, ran with 20kg of kit on his back.
‘I feel really proud,’ he said.
‘The last two miles were hard. It’s just down to fitness.’
The spectacle meant so much to Greg Sutton, 47, who was dressed as a wolf and raising money for The Miscarriage Association as his wife Tamsin, 47, had been through four miscarriages.
‘For the family it’s been devastating,’ he said.
‘My pain is nothing to what some people go through.
‘It’s quite a taboo issue.’
Luke Robinson, 22, from Locks Heath, wanted to give something back to Cancer Research UK after it helped him deal with his mum’s death when he was just 16. He said: ‘I lost my mum to cancer in 2009, and I just wanted to raise awareness.
‘It’s the fifth time I’ve done the Great South Run and I actually think it went better then I thought it would.’
And Batman-lover Ryan Goodall, of Purbrook, was out to support The Rowans Hospice as it supported his grandad Richard and grandmother Betty before they died.
Visitors travelled from miles around to catch a glimpse of the action.
David Williams, 50, from the West Midlands, said: ‘We’ve been to all the Great Runs to watch my son take part in the races - we went to Edinburgh, Manchester and now Portsmouth. With 25,000 people taking part, there’s another 25,000 people lining the streets, which makes for an amazing atmosphere. ‘It’s fantastic to be here.’
Tom Larkin, 22, drove two and a half hours from Essex to support those taking part for the Stroke Association.
He said: ‘I lost my mum to a stroke last year and it’s really hard but dad drove us down so we could take part.
Lucy Wheatley, 24, came to see her sister run.
She said: ‘I love all the cheering.’
Proud Royal Marine runners march on in high spirits
PROUD members of the Royal Marines went the extra mile in an effort to highlight their 350th anniversary.
Rather than stop at the finish line, the 12 men who took up the 10-mile race then marched on further past delighted crowds.
The runners held the flag of the Royal Marines in celebration of their history while two marine drummers led the way.
They were met with claps and cheers by visitors impressed by the show of respect. Marines also took up the run to raise awareness of The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, which is seeking to raise £6m by the end of the year.
The cause, which supports soldiers and their families, is around £400,000 short of its target.
Corporal Mark Clarke, 26, of Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, said it was an emotional moment.
‘I feel really proud to come from Portsmouth and to serve in the Royal Marines because of the heritage we have here in the city,’ he said.
‘I am proud to be part of a corps that has been involved in every conflict since 1664.
‘I was overwhelmed by the support of all of the local people.
‘It was great to see everybody give us a cheer and a clap and it makes us feel proud.’
Sergeant Justin Rich, 35, said: ‘It’s always special to represent the Royal Marines in what we do. It’s an extra bonus that it’s our 350th anniversary.
‘It’s been quite emotional. The support we have had here is fantastic.’
Ex-footballer runs for son
A DEDICATED ex-Pompey player ran in memory of his six-year-old son who died from a rare form of cancer.
Dave Waterman, from Gosport, ran the Great South Run with the support of past and present Pompey players to mark the 10th anniversary since his son’s death.
Oakley was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of three.
Now, Oak’s runners are working to carry on his dying wish.
Dave said: ‘My son wanted families with illnesses to be able to go on holiday in a caravan and relax, to provide people with a chance to get away.
‘We’ve already bought one caravan but can now buy more with the money raised.’
Tony Waterman, from Portsmouth, ran most of the way with the Andy Awford in support of the Oakley Foundation.
He said: ‘We’ve raised nearly £6,000 for the great cause.
‘There’s been such amazing support along the route - especially from Pompey fans.
‘Whenever you feel yourself getting tired, the crowd just picks you up again.’
For more coverage if the Great South Run click here.
To read The News’ view on this click here.