THOUSANDS of runners will lace up their running shoes to take part in the largest 10k race in the south of England.

The Eastleigh 10k will kick-off at 9am today with runners coming from all over the country.

The event has reached its 33rd anniversary and was sold out weeks in advance.

The annual race is renowned as a fast, flat course ideal for both experienced runners and beginners and an opportunity to record personal and season best times.

Steve Collins, race organiser, said: “It’s great that the Hendy Eastleigh 10k continues to be so popular with the demand for this year’s event exceeding all previous years.

“It should be another exciting event. Good luck to all.”

The event also features a 2k children’s fun run which will see youngsters run a mile around Fleming Park.

The children’s fun run will start at 11.10am for those aged between nine and 12 and at 11.30am for those between four and eight years old.

The race is supported by Hendy Group Eastleigh and all 10k runners will receive commemorative T-shirts and medals.

New prize categories will also recognise the effort of those aged over 70 and those aged between 15 and 16 years old.

As in previous years, runners will also raise vital cash for charities.

This year, money will support Wessex Heartbeat, The Mayor of Eastleigh’s Appeal and Wave 105 Cash for Kids appeal.

People from all over the country are expected to flock to Eastleigh for the event, including a team from Guernsey.

Mr Collins said: “We have more unaffiliated runners than ever because of the growth of Parkrun and the NHS drive to get people fit and that’s great to see. We have got a few elite athletes who will be aiming to go under 30 minutes.”

In past years, the race has seen thousands of people taking part, including MPs such as Mike Thorton and his successor current Eastleigh MP Mims Davies, who is expected to run again this year.

The winner is expected to finish at 9.30am in Fleming Park, behind the leisure centre and the race should be over by 10.30am.

See Monday’s Daily Echo for full race results and pictures.

Look back through the 32 years of Eastleigh 10k in our Heritage special on pages 38 and 39 overleaf.