Jo helps launch Great South Run 2013

Ali Watson  and Katy Bradley scan finishing tokens for first time parkrunners Rebecca Howell and Jess Gwynn

Gallery: Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun 149

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ONE of Britain’s top runners gave the Great South Run a ringing endorsement as the south’s premier running event was launched today.

Jo Pavey, who won last year’s event, was present at the Royal Marine Museum in Southsea for the Bupa Great South Run official launch this morning.

She was joined by Andy Akinwolere, former Blue Peter presenter and Great South Run participant, and Cllr Lee Hunt, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport and Portsmouth City Council.

This year’s event takes place on October 27 keen runners and fundraisers are being urged to sign up now.

The famous event, which covers 10 miles of Portsmouth’s coastline, attracted a record 25,000 competitors last year.

Jo said this morning: ‘I always really enjoy this race.

‘The atmosphere is always amazing.

‘The people of Portsmouth always get behind this event and it’s exciting for us as athletes to compete with so many people.

‘It’s just a real atmosphere over the whole weekend.

‘it’s just a great race.’

David Hart, communications director for the Bupa Great South Run, said: ‘I’m sure Jo would love having the accolade of being the first to clock up a victory in a race which has become bigger and bigger since first being staged in Portsmouth in 1991.’

Cllr Lee Hunt said: ‘Portsmouth is the home of the Great South Run and we are happy to have renewed the contract to do another 5 years.

‘we are proud, happy and thrilled to host it, it means a great deal.’

‘It is inspiring a tremendous amount of young people to get involved in sport.’

Andy Akinwolere competed in the event two years ago.

He said: ‘I have done some brilliant things in my life and when I was asked I thought why not?

‘it’s phenomenal, I really enjoyed the speed of it but the participation was phenomenal.

‘There’s something special about being by the sea as well.’

Colin Goater, race director, said: ‘To me it’s just a wonderful experience. I thoroughly enjoy it and I know everyone else does.

‘The numbers increase every year - we were up to 25,000 last year having started at 2,000 24 years ago.

‘It’s great and not only are there increase in the number of runners, spectators are increasing also.’