Race report: The Bupa Great South Run 2010Danny Coyle tackles The Bupa Great South Run 2010 in sunny Southsea, October 24, 2010
Having not set a foot on tarmac in anger since the London Marathon, it was with some trepidation I toed the start line for the BUPA Great South Run last Sunday. I had declared to the office my intention to go below 1hr 20mins for the 10-mile course, but three weeks hunkered down in the office finishing issue two of Men’s Running – and running no further than the bus stop during that time – had put a sizeable dent in that aim. I won’t lie; it was all terribly civilised in the pre-race VIP tent. I sat down with a coffee and croissant, England goalkeeper David James was seated barely 15ft away looking improbably tall, funny man; Hugh Dennis was lurking near the orange juice and adventure-junkie Ben Fogle was posing for pictures with housewives.We even had our own portable loos with hand basins and that soap that smells like your Nan’s airing cupboard. There was time for one more complimentary muffin before heading to the start, where an opera singer was belting out a Westlife hit as we poured past him and on to the route. The sun was splitting the stones and the first mile flew by a little too quickly for my liking, even with having to swerve past the odd portly chap in a Portsmouth football shirt. I was soon into my running and felt good, clipping along at eight-minute miles and taking in the sights of the naval dockyard. At the halfway mark I was on target and still felt fine as the seven-mile marker approached, a state of mind only slightly tarnished by the remark from a spectator that ‘the runners seem to be getting rounder now’. I’m no Willow the Wisp but that hurt, though not as much as the stitch that felt like someone had let off a hand grenade in my guts at mile nine. I could almost smell the finish by that point and a combination of Jelly Babies and booming music in the Bupa Boost Zone down the home stretch got me to the 400m marker, where all attempts to apply a sprint finish died as quickly as they were initiated. I crossed the line in 1hr 18mins 20secs, delighted with the time, but feeling a little sick. ‘That David James is stunning,’ said my sister who’d come down to watch. ‘And I got into the VIP spectator area to see you finish and saw all the elite runners getting changed. They all had amazing six packs.’ And I suppose Hugh Dennis made her laugh and Ben Fogle gave her a kiss as well, but I couldn’t be bothered to ask. There was a hot lunch and free carrot cake to be had in that VIP tent. Race verdict: Outstanding organisation, stunning weather and an enjoyable route with plenty of support along the way. Give this race a go next year, just think about where you park – it took us an hour to get out of the city, having parked on Southsea Common near the start, but we expected that. Park further out of town and you’ll probably be better off, even if it means giving those legs a bit more work to do post-race.