RUNNERS who have competed in every Great South Run since the event started in 1990 helped launch the 25th anniversary of the race being held in Portsmouth.
The five veteran runners - Simon Ware, Phil Pollard, Gerard Beauvoisin, Mick Cornwall and David Olsen - were joined on the deck of HMS Warrior by double European Championships medallist Andy Vernon, from Fareham, as well as a group of novices taking part in the event for the first time.
After its 25th staging last year, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Morrisons Great South Run being held in Portsmouth, as the first ever event happened in Southampton.
Simon, 54, from Rowlands Castle, said: ‘For 25 years now it’s been great.
‘We’ve seen it grow over the years, the amount of runners who take part in it.’
Phil, from Alverstoke, Gosport, agreed the run has grown.
‘I enjoy it every year, it is a buzz,’ the 72-year-old said.
‘It has become a way of life really, it’s helped me keep fit.’
Gerard, 55, from North End, who co-founded running group the Denmead Striders, has recovered from four major operations to remove a tumour from his jaw to compete in the event.
He said: ‘It has been challenging, it can be hard to take breath.
‘Every year the run is well worth doing. I mainly enjoy the atmosphere, I have made a lot of friends.’
The veterans will join around 25,000 people at the start line of the 10-mile race on Sunday, October 25.
Grandfather Mick said there is always great support from the crowds in Portsmouth.
‘It is just an amazing event,’ said Mick, 64, from Newbury. ‘I enjoy coming down, you get good crowd support.’
David, 49, from Southampton, enjoys racing his son Elliott, who is 20.
He said: ‘We always start off together and exchange words of encouragement at the start line, but it is always very competitive. We share the same personal best of one hour, 14 minutes.’
To mark the anniversary, organisers will tomorrow light up the Spinnaker Tower yellow and blue.
David Hart, from the Great Run Company, said: ‘The Morrisons Great South Run has a loyal following in the running community.
‘The event has grown from 2,000 to 25,000 participants over the last quarter century.’
All pictures by Peter Langdown