WATCH: Countdown starts for people taking part in Great South Run

Promoted by Simplyhealth Great South Run

In 10 weeks time, more than 20,000 people are expected to descend upon Southsea to take part in this year’s Great South Run.

The runners have stepped up their training and are calling on friends and family to donate to their chosen charities.

Runners have signed up to take part in this year's Great South Run.

Runners have signed up to take part in this year's Great South Run.

The 10-mile run, sponsored by Simply Health, has grown every year and gets people from across the country in Portsmouth to complete the race on October 22.

As well as those coming further afield, thousands of people from the city also strap on their trainers.

Will Martin and Team 100

We want 100 people to help us raise awareness​ for long-term chronic condition myalgic encephalomyelitis.

The crowds all clap and cheer and watching it is fantastic so to be a part of it must be amazing.

Rebecca Dowden

That is the message from Great South Run participant Will Martin.

Will, from Drayton, is part of the Team 100 Invest in ME which is raising awareness and money for the illness.

It comes as the 48-year-old’s friend Alison Head has lived with the condition for the last 21 years.

Will says: ‘I was looking to do something for charity this year and I was reading some of things Alison was putting on Facebook about her condition.

‘It isn’t one that is well known and the charity doesn’t get a lot of support.

‘But the illness can have a big impact on people who have it.

‘Simply going for a walk can cause them to get fatigued and in pain and some people are bed-ridden.

‘I have ran in the Great South Run three times in the past and thought it would be a good way to raise awareness for Invest in ME.’

Will is a member of Portsmouth Triathletes but recently had a back operation which hindered his running.

He is hoping to start his training for the 10-mile race next week once he gets the all-clear from his physiotherapist.

In the meantime he is trying to recruit runners to be part of Team 100.

Will adds: ‘We thought it would be a great idea to get 100 people trying to raise £100 each.

‘That is a lot of awareness throughout the race and is something a little different too.

‘It would be great to get the 100 runners to make the day even better.

‘Going on past experiences of taking part, I know how great the crowds are with people calling your name.

‘It is fantastic to be running through Southsea and the city and I cannot wait.’

Alison, from Hayling Island, said she was grateful to the runners for getting across information on the charity Invest in ME.

She said ME was often a condition not treated as seriously as it is.

‘The team are amazing for what they are doing,’ Alison says.

‘No one really fundraises for ME and this will help publicise what the condition is like and the affects it does has.

‘Some people can go to work if they are mildly affected while others are left in bed in darkness and with no sound because of what it does.’

Alison started feeling constantly ill in 1994 after she got tonsillitis.

It was not until nearly five years of feeling sick that she was diagnosed with ME.

She adds: ‘Currently, there is no cure for ME. But Invest in ME is looking to do research into treatments that can help and in the future, they want to find a cure.

‘The work they are doing is so important and anything to support them and raise awareness as well as money is fantastic.’

For more information on the Team 100 visit

Rebecca Dowden

WHEN Rebecca Dowden was diagnosed with breast cancer, it came at a time in her life that should have been full of happiness.

The 41-year-old had given birth to her son Isaac just four months before the devastating news.

Now, six years on Rebecca is currently free of cancer and is getting ready to take on the Great South Run in Portsmouth this October.

She will be running for the charity Mummy Star which supports expectant mums or women who have given birth within a year who are diagnosed with cancer.

Rebecca, from Paulsgrove, says: ‘It was my husband who suggested I sign up for the Great South Run.

‘He has completed marathons and thought it would be a good way for me to get fit and have something to focus on.

‘I also wanted to do something for charity so thought it was a great idea.

‘I looked online for charities and came across Mummy Star which has only been going for the last three to four years.

‘The sort of support it gives really struck a cord with me.

‘I had a four-month-old when I was diagnosed with an intensive form of breast cancer. I had to have an operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy so it was really difficult.

‘They offer emotional support and financial support as well as putting you in touch with people in a similar situation and I know how much I would have benefited from that.

‘Following my diagnosis I felt quite lonely. Getting cancer after having a baby never entered my mind.

‘Mummy Star is also the only charity of its kind so I really wanted to raise money for them.

‘I have set a target of £100 but I want to get as much as possible.’

This is the first time Rebecca has taken part in a 10-mile run.

She has previously walked 10 miles for a charity and in July completed the Race for Life in Southsea.

Rebecca adds: ‘The Race for Life was a really good practice run for the Great South Run.

‘It was 10km and I was able to do that without stopping which I was happy about.

‘Now I am trying to get out three days a week to cover 10 miles and I feel good about the training.’

Being from the Portsmouth area, Rebecca has been down to Southsea to watch the race and said she cannot wait to be one of the runners.

‘The atmosphere is always amazing,’ she says.

‘The crowds all clap and cheer and watching it is fantastic so to be a part of it must be amazing.

‘I am really looking forward to it.’

​To make a donation to Rebecca visit