THIS WEEK IN 1988: Is it the end of the Guildhall half marathon finish line?

A mass of runners fill Winston Churchill Avenue to capacity as they set of on the Portsmouth half marathon (B3403-21)

‘Guildhall Square is too small to cope with the half marathon finish and it will have to be staged elsewhere next year.’

This was the message from Melvyn Barfott, Hampshire County Council amateur athletics adviser.

He said: ‘There just isn’t enough room here. The first Portsmouth half marathon attracted 500 runners. Now we are getting more than 3,000.’

Guildhall Square once provided a dramatic finish line for the runners, as they would race up Guildhall Walk towards onlooking crowds.

It was on the steps of the Guildhall that the lord mayor would present the top runners with a trophy.

Mr Barfott suggested a move to Southsea Common.

‘We can cope now but next year, if numbers increase as they have been doing, we shall have to move somewhere like Southsea Common,’ he said.

‘It’s nice to finish the race here, but running is a sport that is still growing and there are always going to be more people wanting to join in.’

Today, the Portsmouth coastal half marathon finishes along the seafront.

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