Emily Canvin made a winning return to Portsmouth with an emotional victory in the Coastal Waterside Marathon.
It was a war of attrition for all the runners who tackled the infamous Southsea wind over the final stretch, long after they were drenched by torrential rain that greeted them at the start.
Fortunately the sun then made a welcome appearance to help create a superb spectacle.
It certainly shone on Canvin, who was born in Portsmouth but now lives in Somerset.
She finished in a time of 3hr 22min 19sec – more than two minutes clear of second-placed lady Liz Young, from New Forest Runners.
Clara Horswell was third (3.25.39) as more than 1,000 runners completed the race.
They ensured the event organised by Rob Piggott, who runs Believe & Achieve Personal Training, and held in aid of the RNLI, proved a great success once again.
Canvin, who competes for Langport Runners, treasured her impressive victory.
She said: ‘I was born in Portsmouth. It was my home. My dad was in the navy.
‘I wanted to come last year but I couldn’t make it.
‘To win is really special. I can’t quite believe it. It’s got to sink in.
‘I won Taunton this year. I’ve started to up my game. I came here hoping.
‘There are a lot of other runners from big clubs so I’m really pleased.
‘I loved the course. I loved the different terrain. I’m used to off-road running.
‘The beaches and things – that’s the highlight for me. I like to change my track and gate. There are no hills but it was great.’
One of the big selling points of the race – supported by Alexandra Sports, Nissan, Race Timing Solutions and Northgate Vehicle Hire – is the popular mixed-terrain course.
It starts at the Pyramids in Southsea, taking in Langstone Harbour, Farlington Marshes and the Hayling Billy Coastal Path, before returning along the promenade to finish back at base.
Canvin dismissed any idea that the Portsmouth event – being part on road – was any easier than other challenges she takes on, even some of the tough EnduranceLife Coastal Trail Series (CTS) races.
She said: ‘I’m not used to road running.
‘I’m an off-road runner. I do a lot of CTS on the coastal paths – South Downs and North Downs.
‘Believe me, running flat out for three hours and 20 minutes is just as brutal as doing a 50-mile race up and down.
‘It’s very hard to understand but there is no give, you just have to give it your all.
‘This was really challenging. It felt like you were going backwards – the two miles coming in.
‘It was tough. It’s all in the head then.’
For Canvin now, it’s time to relax and enjoy a glass, or two, of wine over the Christmas period.
She said: ‘I am going to celebrate, go and see my mum, get the Rioja, and have a good Christmas.’