The Great South Run might be the headline event this weekend but there are plenty of other opportunities to stretch the legs at distances from 5k to 26.2 miles this weekend in the south.
We start our preview with Simplyhealth Great South Run on Sunday (22 October) and a glance at the weather forecast does not bode well for runners in the main 10-mile event on Southsea promenade. A strong Westerly with gusts up to 40mph and cool temperatures will make the closing stages tough.
The sold out 26th Great South Run race features 25,000 runners in the biggest 10-mile race in the world. The programme includes the Simplyhealth Great South Run 5k and Junior and Mini Runs taking place on Saturday and the main race will be shown live on Channel 5 from 10:00am.
If battling the breeze in Pompey doesn't float your boat, then maybe you will prefer the rural delights of Abingdon Marathon on Sunday. This popular race has been held since 1982 and is fully sold out with 1,200 entries. Graded Gold by BARR, the race hosts the Oxon, Berkshire, Middlesex and Army championships, plus a Twin Towns competition with Argentan, France.
There is another opportunity to run long at Chelmsford Marathon on Sunday, where there is also a supporting 5k run. This fledgling event began last year with 370 runners setting out from Central Park. Despite the low entry an impressive £60,000 was raised for The J's Hospice and runner testimonials were overwhelmingly positive. Last year's winners were Stuart Leaney (North Somerset, 2:31:33) and W40 Emma Prideaux (Billericay, 2:56:37).
Alternatively, you could try the Exmoor Stagger or Exmoor Stumble at Minehead on Sunday. Exmoor Stagger is in its 20th year and is billed as 'Exmoor's classic trail race'. The course is around 16 miles, with 3,600 feet of ascent, including a visit to the highest point in Somerset – Dunkery Beacon. There is a lighter option in Exmoor Stumble – a mere 10km with 1,000 feet ascent. No wonder Stuart Leaney raced out of Somerset to win at Chelmsford on the equivalent date last year!
Image courtesy Simplyhealth Great South Run