BASINGSTOKE half marathon and 10k events returned this weekend, with approximately 1,000 keen runners hitting the roads around the town.

Despite an uncertain forecast, the clouds parted and the sun shone over War Memorial Park as set-up completed and a brightly-coloured array of sportswear could be seen at the start line.

This was the tenth in-person half marathon event organised by Destination Basingstoke, with headline sponsor Phillips Solicitors, and main sponsors this year as Lavazza professional, Lilly UK, TechData, and Portsmouth Estates.

Jane Staff, of Destination Basingstoke, told the Gazette that she was “really proud” that everyone had pulled together to make the event happening, despite a scaled-back set up and fewer volunteers able to take part.

“We are in our 11th year, 10th in person, and the public support is fantastic, the business support is brilliant and our volunteers, well we love them more than life itself!” she said.

Speaking to our reporter ahead of the races, there were lots of smiles from runners, whether competing for the first time, or returning to a favourite event.

Glen Jepson, 26, and dad Gary Jepson from Viables were taking on the 10k.

Glen took part in 2019 but it’s Gary’s first time and his wife Helen went along to support.

Glen said he was aiming for a sub-40 minute time, adding: “It’s amazing, it’s good to be back!”

Postal worker Harry Grainger, 54, from Worting Road, started running for charity earlier this year but said this, his first organised event, was “just for me, to see if I can do it!”

“I love it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lisa Pearce, 49, from Sherfield Park was taking on the half marathon for the fifth time in Basingstoke, ninth overall, while friend Jo Edmondson, 45, from Beggarwood joined her for the first time.

Lisa said: “I did it virtually last year which was great, but not the same. I haven’t been very well, but I didn’t want to miss it! So we’re just treating it as a normal Sunday run.

“We’re scared, but once we start we’ll be fine!”

Elizabeth Taylor, a director at headline sponsor Phillips, added: “It's a really great turnout, for Team Phillips and for the event overall. It's great to be back after all this time.

“There are 55 people running for Phillips this year, and so much support behind the scenes, so it’s just great to see it come together.”

And it wasn’t long before the speediest athletes were making their way back across the finish line.

In first place for the 10k was Will Giddings, from Camberley with a time of 38.40.

It was his first time at the Basingstoke event and he said: "It was great! Hillier than I expected! The weather was lovely, a bit hot though!"

The first woman back for the 10k was Chrisi Hall, 36, with a time of 42.34.

"I am exhausted! All I wanted was to beat my 2019 time and I did!” she said.

“Up the hill was pretty tricky but everyone was so nice, lots of support from people out there!"

Marathon winner Robert Wood, 33, from Kempshott, finished in 1:13.23 and said: "I have done this a few times and have been chasing the win, so I'll take it!

“There was a really good crowd out there, lots of support."

Meanwhile, the first female finisher of the half marathon, Lesley Locks, took the title for the fifth time, and also finished fourth overall.

The 44-year-old from Fleet said: “It feels really, really great!”