It is early in the morning. I have butterflies in my stomach as I try to force down a bowl of porridge. It’s plain porridge, ungarnished by my usual spread of frozen berries, nut butters and flax seeds. I don’t like taking risks with my digestion before running anything longer than a 5k.
I am lucky, I think as I sit, chewing my porridge over and over, I don’t have to travel far. Just 5 minutes down the road from my Uni house is the start line. I stood there last year. It is a familiar route and it is exciting.
I ran 10 miles last Sunday, today should be no big deal. It feels like a bigger deal though. The hype, the people who travel all over for this run, the sound of cars starting to flood into Portsmouth. I am excited.
My porridge is finished, time to throw on my shorts and spend hours (this might be an exaggeration) trying to pull up my compression socks. My family will be here in any second. Can someone pin on my race number? Do I even have pins? I am relieved as I remember I still have the pins I saved from the year before. Phew.
I stand at the start line. I’ve said goodbye to my family. I’ve been kissed good luck by my boyfriend and received a hug from his mum and sister. I am surrounded by hundreds of people, some wearing costumes, some as plain as me in their running gear and blending in with the sea of runners who will, very shortly, be running my favourite organised race.
Every year, on the second to last weekend of October, The Great South Run is held in Portsmouth. Unfortunately, like most other races, it is not being held this year, so I thought I would write a review (more like a praise) of the race.
I have run the GSR twice and both years I loved every second of it. The atmosphere is absolutely fantastic, the people that come to the race are always friendly, and well, who doesn’t love running by the sea?
The race itself is a 10-mile course along the Portsmouth coastline and around the city itself. You begin by running through the Historic Dockyards, passing the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior and waving to one of the broadcasting cameras set up (with the hope that, for that second you pass it, you’ll show up on a television somewhere). The route takes you round the university and through an underpass where the chanting of “oggy oggy oggy oi oi oi” can be heard until the race is finished. Miles 5 to 8 take you to Southsea, the most beautiful part of Portsmouth, lined with grand Georgian and Victorian style houses and the sea on your right. At mile 8 you loop round, and from there to the finish you run with the sea on your left and a smile on your face (well, I always had a smile on my face).
Both years I ran the races were completely different experiences. The first year was during storm Brian in 2017. It was rainy and the temperature was relatively low. The second year was during a heatwave in 2018 – I don’t remember how hot it was but towards the end of the race, I was wishing for storm Brian to rush in and cool me down. Regardless of the weather, I loved the race on both years. The GSR was worth it in both the high temperatures and in the storm.
While the GSR is not on this year, this is the time of year where they open up entries for next year. If you have missed running in races this year and are looking to choose your races for next year, I cannot recommend the GSR enough. I think it is a fantastic race, with fantastic people, in a fantastic place. It is a great event for family and friends, and it makes for a fantastic day/weekend trip.
What is your favourite race? I would love to hear what your recommendations are, and if you sign up for the GSR let me know! Who knows, maybe we’ll see each other on the start line.
This post is not endorsed any way, I just feel very passionately about this race and I share my recommendation out of genuine love for the GSR.