ENTRIES for the Southampton Half Marathon have got off to a flying start.

All 500 early bird places were snapped up just more than 48 hours after going on sale.

As exclusively revealed by the Daily Echo, the half marathon will forge a new Olympic-style legacy for the city.

It has generated a wave of excitement among running clubs, sports groups, colleagues and schools ahead of what will be the biggest running event in Southampton’s history.

Nearly 20,000 people will take to the streets to cheer on 6,000 runners passing some the city’s key landmarks.

These include the Bargate, Ocean Village, Southampton Common and the Itchen Bridge where runners can enjoy a stunning view of Town Quay and the docks.

It is scheduled for April 26 next year – the same day as the London Marathon.

But organisers Marafun UK have defended its timing, saying it will champion the city’s history and increase tourism while promoting sports clubs and community groups who are all eager to get involved to welcome the runners.

Half marathon applicants who get into the London Marathon via the ballot in October will have their places deferred until 2016 without charge.

Managing director Chris Rees said that his team has been inundated by entries. He added: “We have really hit the ground running.

“The uptake of entries has been incredible and there is a lot of excitement over the event.

“Being able to run the Itchen Bridge is definitely a big talking point among all the running community.”

“We’ve had people of all ages signing up, from 16-year-olds to those in their 60s and those who have never run before.

“They know they can run in their home city and they have nearly a year to train for it.”

Both the full 13.2-mile course and an alternative 10km route will start at Hoglands Park in the city centre and finish in the Guildhall Square in front of cheering crowds.

Volunteers are needed to man water stations and as marshals with community groups competing for the Best Community Support Award.

The first 500 signing up for both races received an early bird price of £23.99 for the half marathon and £17.99 for the 10K. Early bird prices are still available for the 10K race.

Mr Rees added a number of charities were looking to get involved in sponsoring runners and there will be a special charity rate offered in those cases. Full prices are £28.99 and £21.99 respectively.

Log on to marafunuk.com to sign up.