It proved so near, yet so far for Lily Partridge.
The Aldershot, Farnham & District talent tried to stretch clear in the women’s race at the seven-mile marker and ensure her opponents could not catch her in testing conditions.
It was a brave tactic from Partridge and her performance proved gutsy.
But she was reeled in by Gemma Steel with one mile to go and finished second with a time of 55min 37sec – 12 seconds to the rear of winner Steel.
Charlotte Purdue (55.43) was back in third – the same place she finished in three years ago.
Nonetheless, it was a game effort from Partridge and she was pleased with it.
She said: ‘Gemma is a great athlete and she is in shape.
‘I thought my fitness was on the up and it was a very slow start – we were doing something like six-minute miles.
‘We got to 10km in about 35 minutes and we started to move the pace on a little bit.
‘Then at seven miles, I thought if I could create a gap and it was substantial enough, they wouldn’t be able to close it running into the wind in the final two miles of the race.
‘I was trying purposely not to look behind when ahead.
‘That is because I thought if I looked and they saw me then it would allow them to hang on.
‘Gemma and Charlotte (Purdue) are two of the toughest runners in the country.
‘You just can’t out-battle them.
‘Gemma caught me just before nine miles as she picked it up.
‘I didn’t have the legs at that point to make another move and she was just too strong.
‘However, it’s given me plenty of confidence that I can be competitive and I can race.
‘Gemma is in very good shape at the moment and her fitness is on the up.
‘So hopefully, Gemma and myself can have some good battles on the cross-country circuit.’
Partridge described Portsmouth as a ‘special place’ to her, with her mother being from the city.
The 26-year-old has a fine record in the Great South Run.
Last year, she was fourth in the race and the first British woman home.
Partridge has now made winning the Great South Runs one of her priorities in the future.
She added: ‘The first time I ran in the Great South Run was last year.
‘My mum is actually from Portsmouth so this is our local beach as such and it’s a special place for us.
‘I was the first Brit home last year but we had the three African athletes finish ahead of the field.
‘I really hope the race continue to do British head-to-heads because the girls come out when it’s like this.
‘It was a brilliant race and I really hope that’s the way it came across for everyone watching.
‘It felt exciting to be involved and that’s how I hope it came across.’