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28th Oct2013

BUPA Great South Run Review – 27th October 2013

by Simon Chapple

The BUPA Great South Run is a major event in the UK running calendar, taking place from the start line on Southsea Common in Portsmouth, this 10 mile run attracts in excess of 20,000 runners every year.

As a result, I spent the best part of an hour in traffic as I snaked my way through Portsmouth and Southsea to the official car park, considering this was 7am on a Sunday morning, pretty much all of the traffic was heading to the same event.

There is car parking on site, be warned, it is busy and the traffic will add quite a bit of time to your journey, there is also a £6 charge to park on site.

My first impression of the Great South Run was….windy! It was taking place on the same day that the UK was expecting the worst winds in 25 years, but regardless, the event is right on the coast and is really windy, even on the best of days.

Facilities aren’t brilliant, there were big queues for the toilets and the sheer number of people made using amenities tricky, my advice is to take food, drink and a change of clothes with you and wait into the car until half an hour before the start.

Waiting in the start pen, the enthusiastic crowds of runners were battered by howling winds and stinging rain, everyone just wanted to get started so we could warm up.

Eventually we got going, the course is flat and the route is pretty scenic, taking in the historic naval area and the Spinnaker Tower, there are some parts where the crowds of spectators are really thick, providing fantastic motivation for anyone who needs a boost.

10 miles is a strange distance for me, a bit like a really long 10k or a short half marathon, I had no 10 mile benchmark or PB to measure myself against, so I set out to run at my usual 10k pace.

All was going well until the 8 mile point, when I turned the corner onto the coast facing road, here the wind belts you full in the face, given that the wind was so fierce on race day, it felt like running up the steepest hill and there was no shelter, pretty much every runner around me was struggling and it is fair to say that the last 2 miles of this race are brutal, expect a drop in your pace time of at least 1 minute per KM in this last section.

After the event, the wind was pretty much the main topic of conversation, so if you are planning on running the BUPA Great South run, be warned and be prepared for this part of the race.

Overall, the Great South Run is a good event with decent organisation given the number of runners, traffic is bad and amenities aren’t great, this is made up for by the fantastic atmosphere and brilliant spectator support. There is a nice medal and the usual standard of goody bag (leaflets mainly).

I would probably run the Great South again, but those windy last 2 miles keep me in two minds!


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