MORE than 25,000 runners crossed the finish line in what has been a spectacular Great South Run weekend.
It marked a quarter of a century since the race was first staged in Portsmouth.
One of the runners with the sun on their back was 36-year-old Sam Eames.
It was an emotional 10 miles for Sam and her big group of friends who were running for someone very special.
Earlier this year Sam’s 41-year-old sister Beckie Unwin died following a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
She spent her final weeks in The Rowans Hospice where their compassion inspired Sam and her friends to start Challenge 41 – a challenge for every year of Beckie’s life.
It was hot and it was hard but the crowd did a great job of lifting us when we went aroundDave Hart
Sam, of Dundonald Close, Hayling, said: ‘My sister was amazing. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer July last year and passed away this June.
‘Although she had treatment it had spread to her liver.
‘She was in and out of hospital and then went to The Rowans – they were fantastic.
‘We had trust in The Rowans because they helped my late father Ernest and mum Ann.’
Joining Sam in the balmy 16C heat was vicar of St John’s Church in Fareham, the Rev Bruce Deans.
He ran to raise awareness of Breast Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK which have provided his family with support since his wife Caroline was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.
He said: ‘Unfortunately Caroline couldn’t be here because chemo makes her very unwell for the first 48 hours.
‘But she spotted me on the telly which was brilliant. She has been absolutely amazing and we’ve had huge support.’
He was cheered on by their sons Joseph, 11, and Daniel, 10.
The world’s most popular 10-mile run saw Smurfs, Wonder Woman, gorillas, and a Peppa Pig pound the streets.
And thousands of friends, family members and other supporters flocked to Portsmouth to cheer on those who took part in the run.
Event spokesman David Hart said he was thrilled with the response to the run: ‘It was fantastic.
‘Not too warm or windy and a fast and flat course, combined with a fantastic atmosphere on the streets of Portsmouth.
‘The crowds were absolutely huge and that’s one of the things that makes the Great South Run so special.
‘There were possibly more spectators out on the streets than ever before.’
He added: ‘There was a really high quality or runners and we feel the event just keeps getting better.’
Many competitors ran to raise money for charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Naomi House Children’s Hospice and Help For Heroes.
The race followed a 5km event and Junior and Mini Great South Run on Saturday.
About 2,900 children and adult runners took part in yesterday’s events.
Mr Hart said that while a few participants had to be given first aid at the finish line, there were no medical emergencies.
The first Great South Run took place in Southampton in 1990 before moving to its current course the year afterwards.
Hr Hart said: ‘It’s the 25th year of the Great South Run in Portsmouth and based on what we’ve seen here today, here’s to another 25 years.’
Mr Hart said entries were now open for next year’s Great South Run and more than 300 people had already signed up to take part.
He said the first 1,000 people to sign up would get 25 per cent off the entry price.
Among the thousands of competitors running for charity were sisters Amanda Grant, 41, and Leanne Chapman, 45.
Amanda and Leanne, both from Hilsea, were raising money for children’s charity The Starlight Foundation.
They chose the charity because it had supported their nephew, 11-year-old William Long, who had cancer this year.
Leanne said they were both thrilled to have finished the run in just under 90 minutes.
She said: ‘It was hot and it was hard but the crowd did a great job of lifting us when we went around.’
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