A look ahead to Sunday’s 25th edition of this iconic 10-miler, with Emmanuel Bett, Andy Vernon, Polline Wanjiku and Gemma Steel among those in action
The Bupa Great South Run celebrates its 25th edition on Sunday with athletes looking to join an an illustrious roll of honour which includes the likes of Paula Radcliffe, Mo Farah, Derartu Tulu and Jo Pavey.
Fine fields have been assembled for the silver jubilee event of this iconic 10-miler which takes runners along the south of England’s coastline and through historic Old Portsmouth and the Naval Dockyard.
Haile Gebrselassie was a late – and not entirely unexpected – withdrawal earlier this week. The Ethiopian distance great pulled out of the Great Scottish Run only 20 minutes into the race earlier this month due to breathing problems and he confirmed on Tuesday that he was not ready to tackle Sunday’s event.
With the men’s field remaining world class, the 41-year-old might have struggled to keep pace with his rivals anyway. Firstly there is the in-form Kenyan Joel Kimutai who breezed to victory by some distance in the Bupa Great Birmingham Run. On that occasion he easily beat Emmanuel Bett, but Bett won the Great South Run last year and has run 26:51 for 10,000m. Michael Shelley, the popular Aussie winner of the Commonwealth Games marathon, bolsters the field, as does Daniele Meucci, winner of the marathon at the European Championships.
There is domestic interest from Andy Vernon, one of the revelations of the 2014 season, while Gemma Steel is a serious contender to win a women’s race that is also oozing in quality.
The 28-year-old is one of four stand-out athletes in the women’s field and has a chance to take one of the biggest wins of her career.
Following her 68-minute runner-up placing at the Bupa Great North Run, the Charnwood AC athlete’s confidence will be flying high. She will face the fastest ever at the distance (albeit on a course ruled downhill), Linet Masai, and two athletes who surprisingly beat the Kenyan at the Bupa Great Birmingham Run last weekend, 2011 Great South runner-up Doris Changeiywo and runner-up in 2013 Polline Wanjiru.
Steve Way, Scott Overall, Ryan McLeod, Laura Whittle and Julie Briscoe are among other British athletes in action.
» More in-depth previews can be found in the October 23 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine which is available here or digitally here and features a 32-page Great South Run special section also including interviews, a route map, history and tips for runners
» The event is to be broadcast live on Channel 5 from 10:00am