Simplyhealth Great South Run: Everything you need to know

Get clued up before you run
Great South Run race guide

The sibling of the world famous Great North Run half marathon – the Simplyhealth Great South Run takes place later in the year in Portsmouth.

With over 20,000 runners taking part, it’s one of the most popular races outside of London – and with great scenery and a bumper crowd it’s not surprising.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Great South Run: How far?

Great South Run: Everything you need to know

The Simplyhealth Great South Run is a 10 mile race (16.09km) - making it a pretty unique event. Great North Run is a half marathon, but its southern cousin whips off the last three miles making it an unusual challenge.

We have to say that the 10 mile distance didn't really get us excited pre-race, chiefly because it’s not a PB that’s on our target list – but it’s a refreshing step change that's going to have us coming back for more.

While substantially more than a 10K it’s still an attackable distance – but Great South Run still commands the respect needed for a half marathon. Working out how hard you can push yourself is all part of the challenge.

If you’re stepping up above 10K for the first time, or hunting for half/full marathon PBs later in the running season, it’s a great part of your training.

What’s the route like?

Great South Run: Everything you need to know

The route starts on the seafront in Southsea and then heads through the cobbled streets of the Naval base and then out onto the main roads. At 7 miles you can see the finish line, but you circle back around and finish with a fast straight, running down the esplanade to complete the loop at 10 miles.

It’s a lovely start and finish – and if you get the weather – one of the nicest straights in the country. If it’s lashing down, we imagine that would quickly become hellish and exposed.

In terms of race profile it’s wonderfully flat, with barely any elevation across the whole course. The highest point on the race is a whopping 23ft above sea level. Given the shorter distance it's possible to target some seriously aggressive split times.

And then there’s the support. Great South Run gets a superb crowd, and there was barely a section of the course not two deep with spectators.

On the route were two water stations and a feeding station at around 7 miles, which had a mix of energy bars, gels and the like.

Getting there, staying and leaving

The race begins and ends in South Sea in Portsmouth – so many will choose to stay in the city the night before. Prime location is anywhere on Clarence Parade – which has a number of large hotels, including the Queens Hotel which has a car park for guests.

If you’re staying elsewhere and driving in there’s very limited parking around the streets of Southsea, with most permitted for residents. Your best bet is the official car park on Southsea Common, although it’s £10 for the day – but given the lack of hassle after you’ve run 10 miles, it’s probably worth it.

For those driving in, the event means that main roads in Pier Road and Clarence Parade are closed from 6am on race day. So plan for traffic and find an alternative route in.

You can download the race guide here.

What about 2020?

The next Simplyhealth Great South Run will be held on Sunday 18 October 2020 and costs £43 – race entries are open now. Head over to the website for more info.

We took part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run as guests of Simplyhealth, whose plans help cover the cost of a range of health treatments, including physiotherapy, optician, dental appointments and more.

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