Chris Thompson made Simplyhealth Great South Run history by becoming the first athlete to record three successive victories at the home of HMS Victory on Sunday morning, 21 October. However, there was to be no repeat success for Gemma Steel as Eilish McColgan stole a march on the women's field to win on her debut at 10 miles.
Anyone who knows former world 5,000m record holder Dave Moorcroft should ask him for the lottery numbers as he successfully predicted both race winners in his TV punditry. Yet both races were in the balance until the closing miles on Clarence Esplanade in Southsea.
The elite women's race was first off with the start klaxon sounded by recently retired double Olympic skeleton champion, Lizzy Yarnold. As the runners passed HMS Victory, splendidly bedecked with flags to celebrate Trafalgar Day, McColgan was keeping her powder dry as Steph Twell and Gemma Steel were battling at the front.
As the runners entered the final miles, Twell seemed to have prised a winning gap but Dundee Hawkhill's finest fought back to win in 54:43 – following in the footsteps of her mother, Liz, who was champion in 1995 and 1997. Twell (Aldershot, 55:16) was clear in second place and defending champion Steel (Charnwood, 56:56) finished third.
On a perfect day for fast running the top three men broke new ground as all three set personal bests. Thompson (Aldershot, 46:56) belied his 37 years as he simply refused to accept defeat. In a pre-race interview he revealed that the idea of an historic 'threepeat', as he put it, was a powerful driver but his main target this autumn remains next month's New York Marathon.
Thompson kicked for home early and powered away from Aldershot teammate and friend, Andy Vernon (47:29) and Petros Surafel (Thames Valley Harriers, 48:05).
The 29th Simplyhealth Great South Run weekend also featured Junior and Mini Great South Runs, the Great South 5K and the first ever Simplyhealth Canine Run held on Saturday (20 October). It is estimated that up to 25,000 people took part in all the events.
Jayne Fearn, Simplyhealth spokesperson, said: “The glorious sunshine made for great conditions for a fantastic weekend of events in Portsmouth, from the first ever Simplyhealth Canine Run to the Simplyhealth Great South Run on Sunday. Supporting runners every step of the way, thousands enjoyed our post-run stretch zone and free massage. We're already looking forward to next year.”
Early bird entries with 25% discount are available now for next year's event on 19-20 October.