The Bupa Great South Run was the finish line for JustTextGiving's North Vs South and Fittest Fundraiser challenges. We were there to get the full story.

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Vodafone’s JustTextGiving team are a little bit hoarse this week. Last weekend we joined over 25,000 people at the 10-mile Bupa Great South Run to cheer on runners from the North Vs South fundraising challenge, and to see the JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraisers over the final hurdle. How did they all get on? Here’s the full story…

The race saw ‘Team South’ take to the streets of Portsmouth, raising thousands of pounds for charity and attempting to beat the total made by ‘Team North’ in the Great North Run in the process. It was also the final opportunity for the JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraisers – Grant, Sophie and Dan – to get their running shoes on and make a difference to causes they care about.

 

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The JustTextGiving team got to Southsea in Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon, eager to check out the route before the race. The big story leading up to the event was the impending storm, with hurricane-speed winds and rain expected by the end of the weekend. Thousands of fundraisers took to Twitter to comment on the weather, but it couldn’t dampen the sense of excitement around the town.

The perfect storm

Sunday morning started off more positively with blue sky on the horizon, but it didn’t take long to realise Team South, the Fittest Fundraisers and the thousands of other runners would be in for a whole world of pain; a particularly strong headwind was attacking on the start and finish straight.

The female elite athletes were the first to start the Great South Run, with a field that included marathon and championship runner Florence Kiplagat, Olympic runner Jessica Augusto and Commonwealth Games runner Charlotte Purdue.

They were followed by Chris Christou, a Muscular Sclerosis sufferer taking part in a wheelchair for Muscular Dystrophy. The men’s elite athletes were the next to set off, with a pack that included Olympic runners Stephen Mokoka, Chris Thompson and Emmanuel Bett.

Then it was time to get down to business – thousands of runners, including Vodafone’s own JustTextGiving fundraisers, got into starting position. The run heads down the Southsea shore towards HMS Victory, before cutting back in the opposite direction, finally bringing a slight respite from the wind.

It was the last couple of miles that proved the toughest though, with weary runners facing a return switch onto the shore again and into a fierce headwind.

Team South’s time to shine

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Team South were ready for the weather, though, with captain and ex-olympian Iwan Thomas offering up some unique advice: anybody who might be struggling should tuck in behind a bigger person (“find a chunker, and no, that doesn’t mean me!”) and let them do the hard work.

Iwan proved a born leader, heading round and talking to team members before the race, and actually running with teammates throughout. Team South’s Andy Kitson told JustTextGiving:

“I was fortunate enough to run the first nine miles with Iwan, and that was a really tremendous experience. It has to be the highlight of the North Vs South Challenge and the run itself for me.”

It was a sentiment that was echoed by fellow Team South member Richard Guest, who dyed his hair green especially for the occasion: “The best part of the race for me was being at the very front with Iwan, being in Team South and standing out with my green hair for Macmillan Cancer Care.”

“It wasn’t just running where Olympian Iwan led by example…”

But it wasn’t just running where Olympian Iwan led by example; the captain also led the way when it came to text donations. With over £739 raised by text message alone, Iwan raised more by JustTextGiving than any other North Vs South member, including rival and friend Spice Girl Melanie C, who raised £497 by text.

Iwan turned his enthusiasm to Twitter to help promote his IWAN74 JustTextGiving code, asking friends, family and supporters for help, and in the end it gave him a vital edge – he told us that a mysterious “somebody” pledged an additional £1,000! That’ll make a big difference to Team South’s total in the coming days.

Team South have already raised over £6,213 with more donations on the way. As it stands, Team North have over £18,872, so the two teams have managed a staggering £25,085 between them. We’ll be bringing you an update on the final totals raised by the North Vs South Challenge and the JustTextGiving Fittest Fundraisers next month.

Farewell, Fittest Fundraisers!

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The Great South Run was also an emotional race for Fittest Fundraisers Grant, Sophie and Dan – as it was the concluding race of an incredibly tough challenge that’s spanned 2013.

“It was the concluding race of an incredibly tough challenge.”

Back when the competition started, and with seven races ahead of them, Grant was a running novice and Sophie has spent the last couple of years battling illness. Yet only a few months later, and with thousands of pounds raised for charity, the trio look like seasoned runners.

Dan even managed to cross the line ahead of Iwan Thomas, triumphantly sneaking in front in the final 100m.

The day finished with some fantastic photo opportunities, with the tired but triumphant fundraisers showing off their medals and comparing times. With the hurricane-strength winds holding off until the next day, and more than £600,000 raised for good causes, we chalk the Bupa Great South Run up as a massive success.

Details, details… For more information on the North Vs South Challenge, click here. There’s plenty more on the JTG Fittest Fundraiser Challenge here.