Marathon full of festive cheer and spirit

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These runners will be taking on the Great South Run with Ben Male for his son Leo

Southsea dad to take on Great South Run to raise awareness of son’s condition

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Plenty were dressed in festive costumes, while others were suited up for the occasion.

More than a thousand runners lined up for what was a marathon Christmas party – with the small matter of 26.2miles to negotiate along the way.

Some danced, some scrambled, and some almost had to crawl through the tougher sections of the mixed-terrain course.

But as they flocked to the finish of the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon, the emotion of the occasion was clear to see.

The cheers rang out from the spectators and marshals around the course and at the finish.

Some runners were in tears as they crossed the line as the realisation of completing tough long-term goals, either for charity or personal ambition, proved visibly overwhelming.

Race organiser Rob Piggott’s event was the most successful yet with 1,254 runners taking part.

He had to make some changes to the course because of the high tides at Eastney and the structural problems with South Parade Pier.

But the slightly-altered route proved very popular with runners and was possibly slightly quicker.

Piggott said: ‘We had a short walk up to the start and that was good with the bagpipes.

‘Quite a few runners were in fancy dress, including one runner in an office suit and tie.

‘I have had some good feedback and people certainly seemed to enjoy it.’

Anthony Clarke finished first with a time of 2hr 41min 33sec, while Gemma Bragg was first lady in 3.09.42.

For many the event was about running a personal best, or completing a first marathon.

Others were running as part of wider goals.

MarathonManUK Rob Young crossed the line in a time of 4.08.07 as he edged closer to completing his challenge to run more than 367 marathons in a year.

His monumental effort is being completed to raise money for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Great Ormond Street Hospital and Dreams Come True.

Becky Beard, of Team Run 12, finished her 12th marathon in 12 months with a time of 5.48.44, raising money for Breast Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK.

And Louise Phillips finished in 4.39.18 as she made Portsmouth the finale to her 2014 challenge of completing 14 major races in the year.

Nancianna Clonan also completed her first marathon after coming all the way from Alaska to take part.