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Spectating At The Great South Run 2018

I was meant to be running the Great South Run this year but due to injury wasn’t able to take part. A couple of months ago I don’t think I could have even gone to spectate but now I’m feeling a lot better in myself so….

On 21st October I headed in to Portsmouth to watch the Great South Run. We’d spent a good while contemplating how to get there and eventually settled on just paying the monstrous £10 parking fee to park on Southsea common. We left home at 6:50am to drive over to Portsmouth and get parked.

I knew I wanted to be somewhere around the 8 or 9 mile mark to provide people with cheers and encouragement in those latter stages where they might be struggling and really need the boost. However, first we were heading for breakfast! We walked to The Tenth Hole which is an amazing cake shop that also happen to do some pretty tasty food. It was a good half an hour walk to there and we arrived at 7.55 ready for them to open at 8am. The Tenth Hole was on the Great South Run route and there were signs everywhere saying so and not to park. On our walk there and whilst eating breakfast we probably saw 10 cars get towed away. We even saw one lady park up, get out of her car, read the sign, then go for a jog anyway! Her car was towed about 10 minutes after she left. I bet that was a nasty surprise to come back to!

Sun rise over Canoe Lake

The sun rising over Canoe Lake

For breakfast I had French toast with banana and a coffee followed by a slice of banoffee pie. There were so many runners in there enjoying breakfast too. I’m not sure it’s how I’d fuel my run right before the race but each to their own. When we left and walked to the end of the street I realised we were about 200 yards from the 9 mile marker. It looked as good a place as any to stand and there were toilets right opposite us in case I needed a wee! Priorities!

Andy Vernon warming up

Andy Vernon warming up

We had about half an hour to wait before the elite women set off. I was looking forward to seeing Eilish McColgan and Gemma Steele run. Whilst we were waiting we saw Andy Vernon warming up ready to take on Chris Thompson. We didn’t have too long to wait after that before we saw them around mile 7 (at the end of the road where The Tenth Hole is) and then it only seemed like 10 minutes before they were running past us at mile 9. Eilish McColgan was in first place when she passed us and was looking strong as! I snapped a shot of her and uploaded it to my Instagram stories, only for her to share it on her Instagram stories!

Eilish McColgan

The elite men soon passed after the women and Chris Thompson was in the lead ready to win for the 3rd time. Now I had to get my beady eyes ready to start spotting my friends. The tracker app was next to useless! It told me some of my runners were still on the start line when they’d run past me, and some had finished when they hadn’t. It was down to me to spot them as the app wasn’t reliable. I soon spotted Anna and Kyle. Anna was the happiest person I saw at mile 9. She looked like she was having a great time.

As the time passed by the weather really warmed up. I cheered on Craig from Runr and around 40 people from parkrun. I collected hugs from those that were able to stop. I was shocked to find everyone was dripping wet where they’d poured water over their heads to try and cool down. One friend told me she was suffering with heat stroke! It was so warm and I even got sunburnt. I managed to spot all my friends bar one which I thought was pretty good considering there were 20,000 people running! At the end I was waiting for my lovely friend Mike from parkrun but the app told me he’d finished so we  started heading back to the car. As we passed the finish line I heard the announcer call Mike’s name! So he hadn’t finished after all when the app told me. Luckily I was able to yell through the barricades to him and catch his attention. He laughed when I told him about the mix up and said he’d take the quicker time!

The only downside to the whole day was trying to get out of Portsmouth! It took us about an hour and forty minutes to get home and it’s usually a half hour journey!

Have you been to spectate a big race like the Great South Run?

What’s your favourite race distance?

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Marshalling at the Great South Run and Runner Reviews

Yesterday I was a marshal at the Great South Run in Portsmouth. It was looking a bit hit and miss as to whether the event would take place or not as Storm Brian was battering Britain. The Saturday events were cancelled due to high winds but the Sunday proved to be a tad less windy so we were good to go.

Marshalling meant an early start. I was up at 6am to meet some other marshals from my section at the Gosport Ferry at 7.20. It was still dark when I arrived with just the tiniest bit of light starting to creep up.

View of Portsmouth

The view of Portsmouth from the Gosport Ferry

We caught the 7.30 ferry over to Portsmouth and then walked to our marshal meeting point Wetherspoons! We had breakfast and were given instructions for the day. We were then headed off to our marshal positions. My friend Anna and I were based just before mile 5 where we had the very easy job of making sure no one tried driving up a closed off road. What wasn’t included in the marshal instructions was directions to Gunwharf Quays! I must have been asked how people could get there on foot 30-40 times. I had no clue and sent them all to Anna who thankfully knows Portsmouth a bit better than me!

We were in our marshal positions by 9.05 which felt really early but it gave me time to take a selfie, spot a few friends walking to the start and drink coffee. It was really cold stood still and the wind seemed to whistle right through us. It wasn’t long before we were adding layers, scarves and hats!

This is from InstaStories hence the temperature stamp

Soon the race was under way and the ladies lead group came past us. I shouted words of encouragement to Charlotte Purdue (who came 3rd) and Gemma Steele (who went on to win) and then to Jen who I know from parkrun who came in 9th place!

There were over 20,000 runners and I managed to spot quite a lot of friends from parkrun. It was great to see them and I received sweaty hugs and kisses and shouted words of encouragement to those that were further away from where I was stood. It was such a great atmosphere. People were thanking us for marshalling as we encouraged people who had their names printed on to their tops. I had a funny “argument” with one guy. I was shouting to the crowds “Well Done you’re all awesome” and a guy replied “No you’re awesome” so I shouted back “No you’re awesome” this went on until he was right down the road. It was funny.

We were allowed to leave our marshal position after the last walkers came through. It was around 1.30pm when we left. We’d been so lucky with the weather. It might have been windy but at least it didn’t rain. It took me a long time to warm up though and in the end I opted for a hot bath as I just couldn’t get fully warm. Oh and then I did something….I went online and booked myself a place in next years Great South Run!!!! I have a year to get ready so I’m praying I can train and stay injury free. Fingers crossed.

Runners Reviews

Anna – finished in 1:13:23

Amazing day! I went with no expectations, I just wanted to see what I could do. Loved the atmosphere and the crowds and it was fantastic seeing so many runners I knew and also amazing supporters and volunteers like you! The weather wasn’t horrendous, yes gusty but not too bad considering all the warnings. Top day.

Check out Anna’s blog

Kerry – finished in 1:40:27

Perfect conditions, a tad windy but not as bad as we had thought! I was doing great until Mile 8 and body shut down. I soon realized that it was due to being severely dehydrated and not eating since the day before. Definitely a lesson learnt! No PB for me, but hopefully next year!

Check out Kerry’s blog

Paul – finished in 1:12:15

A great day out at the Great South Run. I arrived early to relax with a coffee before changing into my run gear, my beloved Stokes Bay junior parkrun running vest (Paul is our ED at Stokes Bay juniors). Then greetings with friends before heading to the start pen to mingle with thousands of others, keen to get underway.
Generous crowds shouting and cheering around much of the start, I settled into a comfortable pace, first mile a bit quicker than I intended. Then the second mile beep, heading through the naval base, I actually looked at the runner alongside who looked bemused as I said “oops that mile was a bit quick!”
I felt ok and passed by someone I knew, said hi and pushed on, shouted hi again as I saw him still heading up Winston Churchill Avenue as I was heading back down. He didn’t hear me! Still going well at mile 5 I saw Rebecca and Anna and collected high 5’s. Then another high 5 from my son around mile 6.
Starting to feel tired by mile 7, I slowed a little. When I saw a row of children all wanting high 5’s, a guy in front got a few, then they cheered as I went down the line of 8, high fiving all.
Trying to save a little for the headwind on the final 2 miles I rounded the corner. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, I stayed to the side getting some shelter and still kept some decent pace going. Happy to cross the line, I was wanting to match my time from last year, but managed to go 2 minutes quicker. 1:12:15 very happy.
Now for a quick calf massage to free the muscles,  but this was very painful, but necessary! My feet survived with a few small but angry blisters.
On getting home I was so pleased with my run I immediately entered next years GSR, can’t wait!

Penny  – finished in 1:59:22

Penny (right) before the run

Penny (left) After the run

I absolutely loved yesterday. I met up with Shona before the run and we chilled together. Shona literally chilled as wasn’t wearing enough layers to keep warm. Lesson learned for next year.

The start is always exciting with everybody gathered together waiting for the warm up and start. We set off together chatting like normal but there was so much to see and hear that we didn’t chat all the time.  The first mile marker appeared out of nowhere.
I enjoyed reading the backs of people’s shirts and looking at costumes. It was nice to spot familiar faces too. Unfortunately by about 6km I needed the loo. I knew there were toilets at 10k so kept going. I didn’t tell Shona my plan to stop as I didn’t want to mess up her time.
It was my plan to be under 2 hours this year so as I stood in the queue for the loo I checked my watch to see if I could still do it. It was disheartening watching people go by. My toilet stop lasted 4 minutes so I knew I had to pick the pace up. It wasn’t too long until I over took a T-Rex again. Then the Wonder Women were in my sights and I knew I was almost back to the group I was with before my stop. At 8 miles I over took the other two T-Rex and started to speed up. Lots of people were walking and struggling against the wind but I was on a mission. When I got to 9 miles and checked my watch I knew if I kept at that pace I could reach my target time.
In the end I finished in 1:59:22 . I had made my target. Shona was in the queue for goody bags too. She was only 2 minutes ahead of me at the end.  I would have loved to have run the whole thing together because we would have encouraged each other in those last 2 miles and who knows what time we could have done together. We will have to see next year.

Did you run the Great South Run? How was it for you?

 

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