Great South Run 2021: Race begins in Portsmouth with thousands of runners hitting the city's streets

THOUSANDS of runners have set off on their 10-mile dash around the city as the Great South Run made it’s triumphant return to Portsmouth today.

The first runners have set off on this year's Great South Run in Portsmouth`
The first runners have set off on this year's Great South Run in Portsmouth`

The spectacle was last staged in 2019, with 2020’s event cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first waves have already set off on their dash around the streets of Portsmouth, with the last due to depart at 11am.

For some, the race is a chance to push themselves competitively, to notch up the fastest time

Elite runners, club runners and those in the orange wave get ready to set off

However, for others it’s an opportunity to raise funds for charity or to remember a loved one who died.

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Among those taking part in today’s action include a 13-strong team running in memory of a Portsmouth man who died from a brain tumour.

Graham Green died last November and his three children are taking part today’s race to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research. Also running in his memory will be a nephew and a great-niece, four of his eight grandchildren and four employees from Portsmouth Demolition and Salvage Ltd, the company Graham set up at the age of 17.

Elite runners set off

Elsewhere, a team of firefighters from Cosham and Waterlooville will be running the 10-mile route in full breathing apparatus – while carrying a 15-stone dummy on a stretcher.

Watching from the sideline this morning was proud mum Dawn Vivienne. The 45-year-old from Luton is cheering on her husband Blake, who is running in the elite race.

Accompanied by her two young children, Dawn said: ‘We are all extremely excited and we know he will do amazingly.’

Competitor Andy Watts, 60, from Bournemouth, was looking forward to joining the action.

Wheelchair racers begin their 10-mile route of this year's Great South Run

Speaking to The News before setting off, he said: ‘I’m feeling nervous, it’s my first time but I’m just glad to be here supporting my club.’

Today’s races are set to begin from 10am, with the final wave setting off at 11am.

Also excited about the race is student nurse Alisha Page.

The 22-year-old from Southsea is running for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust as a way of showing her appreciation for the NHS heroes who worked tirelessly through the pandemic.

Thousands of people have already started making their way into the city

She said: ‘I’m nervous and excited but the hospitals have worked so hard over the pandemic.’

For Copman man Carl Hoadtowfield, the race is a chance to raise money for a charity close to his heart.

The 44-year-old said: ‘I’m running in support of the Alzheimer’s Society – my nan and my wife’s grandad have previously suffered from Alzheimer’s so it has always been a charity we have supported over the years.’

Dawn Vivienne, 45, of Luton, pictured with her two children as they cheer on her husband, Blake,
Student nurse Alisha Page, 22, from Southsea pictured at the start of the Great South Run
Thousands of people have already started making their way into the city