Great times ... proud memories
THEY ran, they walked and some staggered. But every one of the thousands of people who completed Bristol Half Marathon achieved something many of us wouldn't even dream of doing.
Sunday's city centre was not for cars but for the pounding of multi-coloured training shoes – from the flash Mo Farah variety to the grey and battered ones about to fall to bits.
There were elite runners and they tore up the 13 miles with the expected aplomb.
The main event was for the masses of people either raising money for good causes or simply having a go after months of training though the wet and windy summer.
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Pro-runners, young and old runners, svelte or less than svelte, and even a bunch of bananas stampeded from Anchor Road on a flat course which fringed the River Avon and went under Brunel's bridge before wiggling back to the centre.
Marshals and onlookers shouted continual encouragement as the miles racked up, firefighters parked their rescue truck and clapped, camouflaged cadets handed out water and St John Ambulance and Great Western Ambulance Service staff stood by.
On went the runners, sweating, hurting, wanting to get on and get it done.
Within an hour or so the fastest ones had got it done, and congregated in Millennium Square and Waterfront Square wrapped in warm foil capes like an oven-ready Army, each armed with a medal and a free copy of the Post.
Martyn Rossiter, 34, a support worker and carpenter from Ashley Hill, St Andrews, finished in one hour, 36 minutes. He admitted: "I didn't do enough training and it was a bit of a struggle, especially the last three miles. It was knackering."
Judith Edwards, 50, a research physiotherapist of Black Boy Hill, Clifton, completed her 10th Bristol Half Marathon in one hour, 58 minutes.
She said: "It's really well organised and I will always do this run as it is down the road."
Mark Drew, 42, a former Post journalist from Downend, came home in one hour, 44 minutes.
Mark said: "That was good for me. It was nice and cool and it is a nice, flat course. I did just about enough training but it hurts a bit more every year. I've done 20 half marathons.
"It's a mid-life crisis."
Shirley Hume, 61, and her husband Chris, 66, of Kings Weston Road, finished in one hour 49 minutes and one hour 50 minutes respectively and agreed that the crowd was very supportive.
Stephen Rosser, 52, chief executive of Clarke Willmott LLP, ran home in one hour, 45 minutes and said it was a good race with a nice atmosphere.
The national law firm is sponsoring the Bristol 10k Business Challenge 2013.
For many, it was less about time and more about a cherished cause. Maths student Harry Peake, 20, of Keynsham, was with a group of 16 runners hoping to raise £2000-plus for charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). His friend Jack Boulton died after cardiac arrest in August 2009 during football training and the cause is still unknown.
Harry said: "It went really well and all 16 finished, even a couple who have never ran before.
"I think Jack would be absolutely confused by it. I don't think he knew how popular he was and it's testament to him that people have come from all over the place."
Tony Parsons, 48, a distribution shift manager of Northfield Avenue, Hanham, strapped on a pair of lungs to run in order to raise awareness for the NHS Organ Donor Register.
It was the idea of his pals from the Shadin Indian Restaurant in Staple Hill, and is poignant as Tony's wife Jo benefited from the service to have a cornea transplant.
Tony said: "We did well. We started as a team and we finished as a team and we are very proud of it."
A team also ran in memory of their friend who died during last year's Bristol Half Marathon. Nick Read, 33, was 600m from the finish line when he collapsed. Medical staff and an off-duty doctor tried to resuscitate him, but could not save him.
Nick, from Clevedon, had been training hard and got himself fit, but had an underlying heart problem he did not know about. On Sunday, a team of about 10 friends and family ran to raise money for charity CRY.
Twin brothers, James and Robin Hambly, who knew Nick for 17 years, were both at last year's race and helped to organise this year's fundraiser.
James, 33, who could not run due to a foot injury but was there to support and fundraise, said: "Nick could be the life and soul of the party, but was also one of the most caring people you could ever meet. The runners wore T-shirts with his picture on their backs, because he always had our back. The charity is promoting screening for people aged 14 to 35 by holding special screening clinics.
"Especially if you are into your fitness, you should be getting yourself checked out."
More than £3,000 has already been raised in Nick's name.