Record-breaking year for Great South Run

The start of the Great South Run 2011
The start of the Great South Run 2011
Volunteers at Whiteley parkrun. Meghan Sellers, Babs Sellars and Tiff Skerratt at Whiteley parkrun on Saturday. Picture Ian Hargreaves (171083-09)

Volunteers make Whiteley parkrun great

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Colin Goater admits the Bupa Great South Run has grown beyond all recognition after a record-breaking year.

The long-standing race organiser saw more than 16,000 finishers come across the line in Southsea on Sunday – a new high – and has seen the event develop from its humble beginnings.

The finishing total came in at 16,206 – compared with 14,943 in 2010 – as the plucky Onyi Mbakwe Olaoya was the last recorded runner to complete the race, finishing in a time of three hours, eight minutes and 32 seconds.

And Goater was delighted with another successful staging.

He said: ‘Everyone is absolutely thrilled at how it went.

‘You see all those people going past and it makes you happy. It was a great day and a great weekend.

‘It never ceases to amaze me how much it has captured the imagination.

‘When we reached about 8,000, I thought that was about it and it wouldn’t get much bigger but it has just kept growing and growing.

‘We had 16,206 finishers which was the largest finish we’ve ever had.

‘You always get quite a few drop-outs before the race but that’s the way it is.’

With 24,000 entries confirmed for this year’s race, Goater admits it is hard to understand why nearly 8,000 of those did not take part on the day.

But he admits that the traffic situation is always a key factor in terms of increasing the number of runners for 2012.

Goater said: ‘People need to enter early and then other things crop up through other commitments or fitness.

‘It’s just one of those things.

‘We increased the entry to 24,000 this year and got more than 16,000 finishers so I don’t think we got it wrong.

‘But we always have to be wary of the traffic situation.’

With the addition of the new 5km race on the Saturday, it made for an impressive weekend of road running.

And while Leonard Komon’s early attempts to break the world record petered out, Goater insists it should not detract from the success of the event.

He said: ‘The new venture with the 5km went down extremely well.

‘People enjoyed it.

‘I was surprised how quickly Komon went off. But Benson Maysa went off like that in 1995 – his time at the one-mile mark was about 4.12 and he ran a very fast time but you’ve got to hang on.

‘At 10k, he (Komon) was still going well but then the pace started to drop off a bit.

‘He was possibly a bit fast but if you are going for records, you’ve got to go for it. If the wind was not coming at the runners for the final stretch, we would have seen faster times.

‘But I don’t think it stopped people enjoying it.

‘It was great – we’re already looking forward to next year.’