Town's major boost with crucial return of Gosport Half Marathon event

Race director Neil Elshaw highlighted the importance of Gosport Half Marathon’s return and beamed: It was just a fantastic day.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 10:10 am
Runners set off in the 2021 Gosport Half Marathon. Picture: Neil Marshall

The popular town event was rolled out for the 35th edition yesterday after last year's race was scuppered because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elshaw confessed numbers were slightly down for the 2021 edition, with 1,322 finishers completing the 13.1mile course.

But the Gosport Half Marathon race director, taking up the position for the first time this year, spoke of why it was crucial the event returned after a two-year absence.

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There was also a 'Children's Fun Run' for youngsters under-11. Picture: Neil Marshall

Elshaw said: ‘We called off last year’s (race) so to be able to run it this year, for us, was really important.

‘We did have a higher drop-out, so we had less runners this year than we’ve had in previous years, but that’s okay because it’s more about putting on the event. It’s quite a big thing in the local area, we raise money for charities in the local area, it brings quite a lot of the community together so it was really important we put the event on.

‘It went really well. I’m really pleased with a lot of the feedback that we’ve had, it’s been really positive.

‘We’re renowned for our marshalls and the support we give to all the runners. It was just a fantastic day.’

A youngster takes on the children's course in a Spiderman costume. Picture: Neil Marshall

Planning for the race began way back in January and Elshaw admitted things were tricky given the ever-changing Covid-19 landscape.

But he revealed some of the measures put in place to ensure the safe running of the event.

‘I remember in January - that’s when we start our preparations - just to try to forecast what the restrictions were going to be like in November was really hard.

‘We actually spent quite a lot of time trying to make sure we were ready for any of those restrictions because we were determined to put the event on.

Youngsters had the chance to be involved with a children's 1.2km course put on. Picture: Neil Marshall

‘We had lots of different things in place so one of the things we did was send out the bibs through the post, normally it’s a collection on the day, we sent the bibs out through the post because it reduced contact points, it reduced queues and collecting numbers on the day.

‘We made another change in putting medals in the goodie bags because then we didn’t have so many people handing out those medals.

‘Actually on the day, we probably could have done it differently, we made those decisions nine months ago.

‘It was more about putting on the event and having the celebration of it, really.’