THE Great South Run returned with a bang on Saturday as scores of people flocked to Southsea Common on a glorious day.
The two-day event got off to a flying start early on Saturday with a brand new race with a difference – the canine run.
Enthusiastic and loyal dogs of all shapes and sizes took on the 2.5km challenge with their owners – with David and his trusty husky Lunar taking the prize with a time of just over nine minutes.
Those taking part in the race admitted they had a ball. Paul Welch, of Portsmouth, took on the challenge with his Jack Russell Gizzy and said: ‘We really enjoyed the race but I was probably guilty of holding her back.’
Derek Powles, who was competing in his first ever race with his dog Nala, added: ‘It’s great to see so many different dogs and owners out for the race.’
The race was even treated to a touch of stardust as British distance runner Laura Muir, the 1,500 metre European champion and world indoor championships medalist 2018, started the race.
She said: ‘It’s been great to see so many dogs and their owners out here. It was a lovely day for it.
‘A lot of people like to go running with their dog which explains so many people turned up for the race. Running is such a good way of keeping fit for both humans and dogs.’
After the canine run it was onto the 5km race – once the poop had been cleared off the track!
Scooping the win against a raft of stiff competition was Henry Mclukie with a time of 15 minutes 55 seconds. Jed Skilton and Jonny White came in second and third respectively.
Many of the runners were turning out for good causes. Nicola Coppin, 42, of Botley, said: ‘I’m raising money for the Stroke Association after my dad passed away last year. I do a lot of virtual races but you can’t beat being out there racing against others.’
Alyson Martin, 46, who travelled from the Isle of Wight on her own, said: ‘I’m raising money for cancer research after losing a number of family members to it. I believe in time we can get rid of this horrible illness.’
Meanwhile, youngsters from the city and further afield geared up for the Mini and Junior races which took place on Saturday afternoon.
Daniel Smith, aged 8, from Portchester said: ‘I like to do parkruns every week so I wanted to do this as well.’
Dad Dave added: ‘It’s great to get the kids out and about and active. ‘It is really great weather for it as well, unlike last year.’
Olympic athlete Eilish McColgan, who won yesterday’s senior women’s race, spoke to the Junior girls ahead of their race.
She said: ‘Everyone can choose to run as fast or as slow as they want, it is down to you and it’s your own personal best.’