Trailblazing Jo Pavey will be aiming for a place in the record books when she bids to complete a hat-trick of victories in Hampshire later this year.
The Bupa Great South Run in Portsmouh, which this year takes place on Sunday, October 26, is cemented in the sporting calendar as the world’s leading ten-mile running event.
It celebrates its 25th staging this year and Pavey, a medal prospect at the age of 40 going into the track and field programme at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, will be attempting to become the first runner to win the elite women’s race three times.
The Exeter Harrier prevailed in 2006 and 2012 and another success in 2014 would take the inspirational mother-of-two ahead of Sonia O’Sullivan, Liz McColgan, Restituta Joseph and Iulia Negura – all two-time winners – in the Bupa Great South roll of honour.
“The Bupa Great South Run means a lot to me,” said Pavey, whose form this summer suggests she could be a podium contender on the track at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and at the European Championships in Zurich in August.
“I love running the Great South Run,” she added. “It just really suits me. I love the fact that it’s ten miles, and the course is fast and flat, and it’s always a really competitive race. I love the atmosphere and finishing along the seafront in Portsmouth.
“I just love everything about it really. When you’ve been fortunate to win it in the past, it gives you a good feeling that you’ve got a chance to do well in it again.
“I’m excited to be going back. It’s just a great opportunity to run the best ten mile road race in the world, really.”
It is perhaps a good omen that Pavey’s past two victories in the Bupa Great South Run have come on the back of impressive performances on the track in the same year.
In March 2006 she won a 5,000m bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. In October that year she made her international road running debut in the Bupa Great South Run and was a runaway winner in 52 minutes 46 seconds. That remains her lifetime best for ten miles.
In the summer of 2012 Pavey won a 10,000m silver medal at the European Championships in Helsinki and finished seventh in the 5,000m and 10,000m finals at the London Olympics. She was the first European home in both events in what was her fourth successive Olympic Games.
In October 2012 Pavey maintained that form in the Bupa Great South Run, a prestigious IAAF Gold Label event. She led from gun to tape, winning in 53 minutes 01 second.
“It would be nice to try and get a personal best this time,” said Pavey, who turns 41 in September. “Even though I’m getting older, I still feel determined to try and run fast times.
“It’s quite exciting in a way, because I still have to be competitive with the younger girls but there’s the added dimension of a bit of fun and banter being added in there because people notice that you’re 40.
“I think it just shows that you can keep going on longer. I think in the past people mistakenly thought you had to retire younger; they probably thought it was the done thing.
“I’m a busy mum but I’m very fortunate that I’m in the position where my husband and I both work at the running together. We’re both based at home with the kids. It works for us as a family.”
The Paveys live in the west of the great south of England – in the Devon market town of Honiton. Jo’s husband, Gavin, is her coach and manager. They have two young children: Jacob, who is four, and Emily, who will be one in September.