European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey and double European medallist Andy Vernon are to line up in the 26th edition of the Morrisons Great South Run on Sunday 25 October.
For Pavey, the world’s leading ten mile running event will be a stepping stone towards her long-term goal of challenging for a fifth successive Olympic appearance in 2016.
The 41-year-old Exeter Harrier decided to run only one track race in 2015, finishing seventh in the European Cup 10,000m race in Chia, Italy, in June, to concentrate on road running this year before preparing to press her claims for Olympic selection next year.
“I’m really excited to get out there and race in the Morrisons Great South Run again,” said Pavey, who won the Portsmouth event in 2006 and 2012. “It’s such a great course and it’s got an amazing reputation, as the only 10 mile running event in the world that has IAAF Gold Label status.
“To run a ten mile race on such a fantastic course is just a brilliant opportunity. It attracts really top athletes because it’s got such a good reputation.
“The crowd support is great. The people of Portsmouth really get behind the event. It’s a scenic course and I love the challenge of running along by the sea front at the end. It’s a brilliant event.”
Pavey’s two previous Great South Run wins both came off the back of successful summer track seasons and a third triumph - a year on from her gold medal winning 10,000m run at the European Championships in Zurich and her brilliant 5000m bronze medal performance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - would make the mother of two the first runner to complete a hat-trick of victories in the elite women’s section.
“It’s difficult to say if it will be harder for me to win it this year,” said Pavey, who turns 42 next month. “We’ll see how the training goes. I want to get out there and run well.
“It will be different this year. I’ve taken a step back and I’m enjoying my running. I was pleased with my decision not to aim to challenge for selection for the World Championships because I’m really focused on my goal of trying to qualify for a fifth Olympics.
“It’s fantastic having an event like the Morrisons Great South Run to aim for because you need to have goals. I’m excited this year to have the opportunity to do a bit of road racing with deciding not to do a track season.
“It’s enjoyable to be able to do these mass events, running with loads of other runners. It’s always a pleasure to be in a big race.”
Vernon was a double medal winner at the European Championships in Zurich a year ago, taking silver in the 10,00m and bronze in the 5000m. However, the 29-year-old Aldershot athlete has been controversially overlooked for the British team for this year’s World Championships, despite improving his lifetime best by 11.03 seconds to win the 10,000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational meeting in Palo Alto, California, in May in 27 minutes 42.62 seconds.
That performance moved Vernon to 13th place on the UK all-time ranking list, directly ahead of a trio of great British distance running stars of the 1970s, Ian Stewart, Bernie Ford and Geoff Smith.
He was also an impressive winner over 5000m at Ninove in Belgium on 1 August, clocking 13 minutes 20.34 seconds to beat Hayle Ibrahimov, the Azerbaijani who took European silver in between Vernon and Mo Farah over twelve and half laps in Zurich last year.
For more information and to enter the Morrisons Great South Run visit www.greatrun.org/south
HOW TO SIGN UP
To sign up to the 10-mile Great South Run on October 25, log on here
For the 5k run, go here
And for the junior or mini races, go here