Organisers are confident that the cream of the world’s running talent will return for the next edition of the Morrisons Great South Run.
The world’s top 10-mile road race was hit by the injury withdrawals of Haile Gebrselassie and home favourite Jo Pavey in the lead-up to the event last year.
But even though the star duo missed out, they could yet be start this year, while Paula Radcliffe could also be back in some capacity.
David Hart, communications director at organisers Nova International, said: ‘It was a disappointment Haile and Jo didn’t run.
‘The event is only a bit about the elite athletes. There is much more to it than that.
‘But you can never guarantee who will be there on the start line. You sign them up and then you hope they don’t get injured.
‘But I’m very hopeful they will be back for this year.
‘It’s a little bit early but we would absolutely love for both of them to be involved.
‘It’s an ongoing discussion.
‘We put on so many big events so it’s a continuing dialogue with many of the athletes.
‘We can’t stand still in attracting the big names to this event.
‘The day we stand still is the day we go backwards.’
Radcliffe, who won the event in 2008, has announced her plans to run her final London Marathon this year and she may yet be tempted to run the shorter distance in Portsmouth.
But Hart is keen to have her on board to promote the growth of female participation in the race.
He said: ‘One thing we would really like to do is to get Paula involved in some way.
‘She won the event in 2008 and she is going to become our ambassador for women’s running.
‘It’s an interesting statistic that it was just 11 per cent women runners in the first Great North Run.
‘But for events like the Great South Run, it’s now 55 per cent men and 45 per cent women. We would like to get it to 50/50.
‘It shows how inclusive the event has become. Paula is on board and helping us. She is a fantastic athlete and became one of the world’s greatest.’
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