Chris Thompson is gunning for a Simplyhealth Great South Run first when he defends his title at the ten-mile race in Porstmouth at the weekend.

The 37-year-old has won the last two races on the south coast, and victory on Sunday will make it an unprecedented hat-trick as he lines up for the seventh time in the world famous race.

No athlete has won three consecutive Great South Runs – and only Gary Staines has won three in total in the race’s 29-year history.

Thompson, fresh from winning his second consecutive Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run a fortnight ago, will go up against Aldershot, Farnham and District teammate Andy Vernon, who was forced to pull out of the half marathon in Glasgow owing to food poisoning.

Also lining up in the men’s race is 2012 Olympian Scott Overall, Libya’s Mohammed Hrezi and Euro XC team bronze medallist Alex Teuten.

Thompson, who competes in the New York City Marathon next month, said: “I’d be absolutely delighted to make it three wins in a row in Portsmouth. It’s a race which is close to my heart and to win it for the first time in 2016 was a massive moment for me.

“Everything is going in the right direction at the moment as New York draws near. I thoroughly enjoyed the victory in Glasgow two weeks ago and I’m determined to continue the good work into this race.”

Steel going for a double as well

Another athlete aiming for a repeat performance is Gemma Steel, who will return to the South coast a year on from her win in the 2017 staging of the race.

The Charnwood 32-year-old tasted victory in the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run 10K a fortnight ago and represented England in the Commonwealth Half Marathon staged in Cardiff last week.

Despite victories over 10K in Gateshead and Glasgow this year, Steel has struggled to replicate the form that saw her achieve the third fastest 10KM in British history, and will go up against two distance running heavyweights in Steph Twell and Jo Pavey.

Twell showed her versatility earlier this year when she represented Scotland over the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, while flexing her muscles over the half marathon in Cardiff a week ago.

She made her Great South Run debut in 2010 which remains her sole 10-mile outing to date.

Pavey, however, is no stranger to Portsmouth having won on two occasions in 2006 and 2012. The hugely-experienced Olympian is still going strong at the age of 45 and will be among the contenders for the race which is broadcast live on Channel 5.

Making her 10-mile debut will be European medallist Eilish McColgan. The daughter of two-time Great South Run winner Liz took her first senior silverware this year when she claimed silver in the 500m in Berlin over the summer. The Scottish international has not raced further than 10K in her career to date.

The Simplyhealth Great South Run is televised live on Channel 5 on Sunday from 10am until 12pm.

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