THE popular Gosport Half Marathon returns on Sunday with the race sold out in advance for the fourth year in a row.
With 2,000 entrants it is one of the biggest events on the south coast and the course provides a good opportunity for personal best times.
However, Sunday is forecast to bring 40mph winds, adding to the challenge for the runners.
It will be a big celebration for hosts Gosport Road Runners as this is the 30th running of the event.
The first edition in 1986 was started by former Great Britain athlete and 1996 Olympic silver medallist Roger Black.
Race entries tend to be evenly split between club and non-club runners, so there is a good mix of abilities, ensuring the race feels busy but rarely crowded.
Portsmouth Joggers, Victory, Fareham Crusaders, Stubbington Green Runners and Isle of Wight Road Runners will be among the club’s who have strong teams of runners taking part.
The 2014 winning man on the new course was Toby Lambert, from Winchester & District AC, clocking an impressive 1hr 08min, while Emma Macready was the first lady was (Haslemere Border AC) in a time of 1.18.54.
City of Portsmouth’s England international athlete Alex Teuten was also one of the stars of the show in 2014.
That performance certainly boosted his confidence and he has since gone on to perform strongly in the Great South Run.
This year the course has changed slightly to improve the flow of the race and remove some pinch-points.
The outward leg is mainly run on cycle-paths and pavement, while the return leg goes along the Esplanade.
It is flat, apart from a short ramp along the Esplanade and a slight incline at Salterns Rd.
This is the fourth Hampshire Road Race League event of the 2015-16 season.
In the individual league the seven best scores from 12 races count.
Kathy Bailey, Sarah Hill, Lesley Locks, Erica Fogg and Hannah Howard are early front-runners for ladies’ glory.
In the men’s standings Winchester trio Lambert, Toby Cooke and George King are looking strong.
Sunday’s race starts at 10am. The venue is Bay House School, 18 Gomer Lane, PO12 2QP.
Don’t miss The News on Monday for a full list of finishers from the Gosport Half Marathon.