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!
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!
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!
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?