The Great South Run weekend gets under way in Portsmouth with 5k event

Cyclists from across the Portsmouth area take part in the Glow cycling event in Southsea. 'Picture Ian Hargreaves  (171233-1)

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EXHAUSTED runners have declared the very first Bupa Great South Run 5k a huge success.

Almost 1,000 people took part and completed a shorter version of the classic 10-mile on the Southsea seafront course to raise money for dozens of charities.

WE'VE DONE IT Some of the first runners to complete the 5k course

WE'VE DONE IT Some of the first runners to complete the 5k course

Running beside them and offering encouragement were some of the world’s greatest distance runners, including current marathon world champion Abel Kirui who will enter Sunday’s main event.

Today’s shorter distance race was won by William Newnham.

Michael Rae, 52, of Eastfield Road, Southsea, ran dressed as a banana with his 22-year-old daughter Danielle, 22, of Melville Road, Eastney, in support of the Alzheimer’s Society.

He said: ‘I really really enjoyed it, It’s just something I wanted to do as a bit of fun. Danielle has done really well, she has lost three stone and did a lot of training.’

Danielle added: ‘It’s made me feel so much better about myself, losing the weight was all about training, feeling healthier and having fun. I haven’t taken it to seriously and I will definitely do it again next year.’

Katie Butcher, 26, of King Albert Court, in Fratton, was walking the course in memory of her stillborn son James and was the last person to cross the finish line.

She said: ‘The race was a lot of fun. I may have finished last but I didn’t come to run, I came to walk, and all that matters is that I’m still standing.’

David Hart, communications director of Nova, said: ‘The 5k distance, on a very flat course around Southsea, will be a perfect first step for runners, who will hopefully use it to progress to the 10-mile distance in the future.’

But before tomorrow’s main event there was also a chance for younger runners to take part in the 1.5k Mini Run for three to eight-year-olds, at midday, or the 2.5k Junior Run for nine to 15-year-olds, at 1pm.

A total of 3,000 people took part in today’s events, including former world champion distance runner Sonia O’Sullivan who entered the 5k run.

Then tomorrow a further 24,000 runners from all over the world will help to make the 22nd Bupa Great South Run the biggest in history and raise millions of pounds for charity.