ONE of the most popular road races on the south coast of England celebrates a record-breaking milestone this weekend.
First staged in March 1985, the 30th B & Q Eastleigh 10k has attracted a record entry of over 2,800 for the 10am start in Fleming Park.
There will also be hundreds of youngsters competing in the ever-popular 2k fun runs.
An event for 9-12 year-olds starts at 12.15pm with another for 4-8 year-olds beginning half an hour later.
A total of £3,800 worth of prizes will be awarded to the first ten male finishers, first six female finishers, first veterans in various age groups, and first three teams in both male and female sections (four runners to score).
B & Q are sponsoring the race for the 23rd year running, after Draper Tools – a former Saints shirt sponsor of the 1980s – were the first event sponsors.
Kevin O’Byrne, chief executive of B&Q, said: “It’s great for us to be able to support our local community.
“This race is extremely popular each year and I’d like to wish everybody taking part, many of whom are B&Q employees, the very best of luck.
“I hope that once again many charities and community groups are able to benefit from the funds raised on the day.”
The first Eastleigh 10k was the brainchild of Draper Tools, the then Mayor of Eastleigh and Christine and Martin Benning of Southampton City AC.
The race was designed to encourage more runners during the peak of the first jogging boom, while raising money for the Mayor of Eastleigh’s charities.
There was a switch in race director in 1987, Malcolm Price picking up the reins from the Bennings, and in 2001 Southampton RC became the club connection in the partnership.
Steve Collins is the current race director and Eastleigh RC are the current race organisers.
In 1992, B&Q took over the sponsorship of the race, which is now ranked in the top 50 races in the UK every year.
That year also saw the introduction of the under 12s 2km fun run.
This event proved so popular that it is now split into two sections with under 8s and under 12s sharing the 800 entries.
Most of the area’s major athletics clubs are well represented this Sunday, with large entries from Southampton AC, Southampton Running Sisters, Eastleigh RC, Winchester and Stubbington Green.
Lordshill Road Runners, Hedge End, Salisbury and Andover also have large numbers of members competing.
Hedge End’s Berrywood School are well represented in the 2k fun run, with over 100 pupils entering.