Thompson and Steel to defend Great South Run titles

Chris Thompson winning at the 2017 Great South Run

Chris Thompson defending his title at the 2017 Great South Run.

Chris Thompson and Gemma Steel will defend their titles over 10 miles in the Simplyhealth Great South Run in Portsmouth, a five-star certified road race by European Athletics Running for All, on Sunday (21).

Now in its 29th year, an anticipated 20,000 people are due to take part in events across the weekend programme culminating with the 10-mile run on the Sunday which features some of Britain’s finest runners.

The course starts and finishes in Southsea and takes runners on a fast and flat route around Portsmouth, taking in attractions including the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose Museum.

Thompson, 37, will be looking to create history by becoming the first athlete in race history to win three successive titles in Portsmouth. He was in winning form at the end of the last month in the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow where he defended his half marathon title in 62:07 and he will be looking to maintain this winning form on the road to the New York Marathon on 4 November.

The reigning champion will face tough opposition from long-time domestic rival and last year’s runner-up Andy Vernon, who arrives fresh from victory in the Manchester Half Marathon in 63:36.

In the women’s race, former SPAR European cross country champion Steel faces a line-up including European 5000m silver medallist Eilish McColgan whose mother Liz won the Great South Run in 1995 and 1997. Eilish will be making her racing debut over the 10-mile distance.

Stephanie Twell will also be in action while former European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, a winner in 2006 and 2012, makes her return to competitive action after injury.

Behind the elites, thousands of runners will be entertained by 16 music and cheer points across the course featuring live bands to charity buses every half-a-mile. Over 75 charities are involved in the event, with runners raising £3.5 million for charitable and not-for-profit causes in 2017.

For the first time this year, Saturday’s events also includes the Simplyhealth Canine Run, the first of its kind in the Great Run Series. 100 dogs and their owners will take on a 2.5km course, starting and finishing on Clarence Esplanade. European 1500m champion and recently qualified vet Laura Muir will be setting the runners - and their dogs - on their way.

The European Athletics Quality Road Race standards act as an assurance for road runners throughout Europe. They distinguish between races that respect the standards and those that haven’t sought certification or assessment. They form the foundation of Running for All, a strong recognisable brand for running activities throughout Europe.

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