THEYcame in all shapes and sizes and could list luminaries such as Spiderman, Turtles and Mr Blobby among them.
But the 2,200 runners who completed the Great West Run in Exeter on Sunday had one shared goal – to cross that finish line and collect their medal and the well-earned adulation from a packed crowd.
The race set off from Sidwell Street at 9am and the new route took runners down the High Street, over Exe Bridges, through Exwick, on to Stoke Woods and then up to the university.
They then followed an out-and-back route along Pinhoe Road, and finally joined Blackboy Road to finish where they began in Sidwell Street.
The race was won by Tom Merson in a time of one hour, ten minutes, two seconds.
But while the event attracts its fair share of serious runners, it is just as much about the hordes of others competing to raise thousands of pounds for a host of different charities.
A group of runners also took part in memory of Rebecca Scott, an athlete from Clyst St Mary who died in a cycling accident earlier this year. She had been a regular competitor in the Great West Run and a team under the name of Becky's Buddies Run Team raised money for two charities that book-ended her life – the neonatal unit at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and the Devon Air Ambulance. Rob Pemberton, 54, was among them.
He said: "I used to live in Exeter and knew Becky from when she was born. I was going to run it anyway but after what happened to Becky I felt inspired to do it in memory of her.
"She used to run in this. And her parents recently completed a 100 mile bike ride. So if they can do that, the least I can do is a half marathon.
"It was a very well organised event. The last five miles were pretty brutal.
"It was a really good race and I preferred the new course to the old one."
Stuart Smith, 42, of Exeter, was also part of the Becky's Buddies runners.
"I worked with her so we used to train together at lunchtime," he said. "I also know her dad Alan quite well and the rest of the family so wanted to do this to show my support to them."
Ray Gibbins, 39, and Jane Murray, 45, both of Clyst Hydon near Cullompton, were running In aid of Exeter Hospiscare. It was the first time for both of them and they completed the course in 1hr 50min. Ray said: "The Hospice looked after my mother four years ago and gave her terrific care so I do what I can to support them.
"It is a fast course and you get great support from everyone. The steel band were fantastic. There were lots in fancy dress. I have seen Mr Blobby, Spiderman and all sorts. It was a bit disheartening to see a woman dressed as a bride shooting past though. I couldn't keep up with her.
"There was really good support around the university and here in the city centre. It was tough but not as hard as I thought it was going to be."
Ian Robinson, 51, of Heavitree, ran for Cancer Research UK and a diabetes charity. He said: "Cancer research is particularly close to my heart as my daughter recovered from cancer. I really feel very strongly that I want to contribute to the cause.
"Her name is Emily and she is 14 now. But she got cancer when she was eight months old. She had chemo and had a liver transplant at Bristol Children's Hospital. We owe so much to the NHS and all the people who support cancer research.
"I have done a few Great West Runs.
That new route is pretty tough. There were lots of hills and I have been carrying an injury. After about eight miles I was hobbling but I had to finish as a lot of people have supported me. It is a great event and a great atmosphere. I finished in about 2.03, which is a bit below my target. But I am just glad to have finished. I had not done a lot of training but hopefully will be back next year."
While some were running the event for the first time, retired Sidmouth College teacher Trevor Cope, 60, of Exmouth, was laying claim to a world record as he had just completed his 254th half marathon.
"No one has challenged me to say they beat it. It is my 22nd Great West Run," he said. "I started of trying to raise money for computer that had got stolen from a school in the 1980s. I raised enough to get the computer back and it went on from there. I have run for various charities over the years.
"This was a hard one. There were lots of hills and I finished in 2.06, which was a bit below my target. But three years ago I broke my hip and they told me I would never run again so it can't be that bad.
"My intention is to still run the London marathon when I am 100. We shall see about that. My world record is an unofficial one. I know it is the most in England and the Commonwealth and as far as I know it is the most in the world. No one has challenged it."
Alan Rockey, 51, become a centenarian on the weekend when he ran his 100th half marathon for international charity WaterAid.
Alan, a South West Water engineer from Woodbury, completed his 18th Great West Run in a time of one hour and 51 minutes.
He said: "It was a great day, weather was perfect. The new course was good though the second half was tougher. I hoped to get under 1 hour 50 minutes but the last hill up Pinhoe Road was hard.
"But I really enjoyed it and the new organisers put on a really great event."
For others the 13 plus miles was not enough of a challenge in itself so they felt the need to do it in all arrays of fancy dress outfits.
Mike Lawson, 21, and Tom Lawson, 25, from Silverton, decided to dress up as good Spiderman and bad Spiderman for the event. They were raising money for Exeter Hospiscare and crossed the line in 1.38.
"It was very warm in this outfit," said Tom. "It was really hard but the support we got from people was amazing. Everyone was shouting encouragement at us, even some of the other runners. People were clapping and cheering."
"It was hard to see at times with the masks on and difficult to breathe but it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Without the support we had it would have been a lot tougher."
Mike added: "We wanted to support a good local charity so chose Exeter Hospiscare. We have raised £568 so far and hopefully there is more to come in.
"It was my idea to do it in costumes. I had run it a couple of times before and knew I could do it in a good time. I just thought it would be a nice idea to do something a bit different as it was for charity. After eight miles I said I would never do it again but I am glad we did now."
Andy Fraser, 28, Toby Hales, 29, Richie Brown, 32, and Richard Potter, 31, all came from Tiverton, dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Andy said: "We did it for Cancer Research UK to raise a bit of money. It was very warm and tough in these outfits and certainly a different experience. We had a great response from the crowd though and they were really behind us.
"The idea for it came from a drunken night out. It seemed a great idea at the time. It was all worth it in the end."
Richard added: "I lost my nan last Christmas to cancer so have raised money at other events. This is just carrying on the trend."
Luke Plain and Niall Martin, both 22, of Exeter, attracted a lot of attention on route as they were both dressed as Mr Blobby. They were running in aid of Cancer Research UK. Luke said: "It is the first time we have done this and we wanted to have a bit of fun. The first thought was to do it in fancy dress and we then decided to try and do it in the most difficult one possible.
"It was very hot and sweaty and the vision was poor. But it is great now we have done it. We were going for a time of 2.30 and got 2.32.
"People were screaming support for us en route and that did make a big difference. The crowd were amazing."
Paul Madge, 54, from Exeter, completed the race sporting an impressive magic carpet and Aladdin outfit.
He said: This is my 24th time doing this and my 18th in fancy dress. I saw this particular outfit on a TV advert and thought it looked great. I am doing this for Hospiscare and just want to say what a great atmosphere it was out there today. Thank you to everyone for their support."
Simon Kilbee, 42, was running in support of Exeter's West of England School. He was dressed in full pirate gear. He said: "I was doing lots of showboating, clapping hands and encouraging everyone on. It was great fun and a great atmosphere."
Chris Edwards, 28, of Pinhoe, ran with a group of eight work colleagues from Treco for the Stroke Association. He said: "It was really good. It was my first one so I found it tough but thrilled to have got around. We were running it for the Stroke Association as my mum had a stroke last November. All my colleagues decided to help out as well and we have raised over £1,000, which is wonderful. The support has been great."
Sisters Annabel White and Emily Tibbetts ran for Cancer Research UK. Annabel said: "Both our parents are currently battling cancer so we just wanted to show our support. We were doing it for mum and dad.
"It was fantastic. The weather was perfect and the route was beautiful. The organisers have done a really good job and there was lots of support from the public."
Ben Palmer, 22, was running for the charity Christian Aid. He said: "It was great. I enjoyed the crowds and it was a big change from last year. I am an intern for Christian Aid and have just been out to Colombia to witness some of their projects and wanted to help support them."
A family team made up of Daniel Case, Deborah Down and Jade Down ran for Sophie Joy, aged three, and their 'Stepping with Sophie Appeal' to help Sophie with her battles against Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy.
Sharon Jeans completed the Run to raise funds for The Stroke Association after suffering a stroke herself little over a year ago.
With minimal running experience, she took on the personal challenge to help increase awareness for sufferers and the general public on how to spot an attack.
Martin Mceneny, a member of the Haldon Train Runners, finished in 1.27.
"The hill from Cowley past the uni was a killer. But I did better than I expected. It was a good atmosphere out there. I have another half marathon next Sunday."
A veteran of several Great West Runs, Chris Dupain, 29, of Exeter, is a member of Exmouth Harriers. He said: "It was a really nice course. It was a bit hilly but it was good to go around the uni. There were a lot of crowds there. Running through Cowley and Whipton was also good and I liked the new course. I got in under 1.30 so happy with that."
Ed Jenkins, 23, who recently graduated from Exeter University, was running his second Great West Run and crossed the line in 1.24. "I am not a club runner but I do take it semi seriously. The atmosphere was pretty fantastic. People were clapping all along the route, keeping us going. I very happy with my time. I am a bit surprised as my target was 1.30 and I was well under that."
James Connell, 40, from London, finished in 1.26. He said: "It was hard. It was really hilly in places but it was a great atmosphere and good weather for it.
"I am getting into serious running. I have lost 25 kilos in the last 18 months.
"I have never done this one before but my wife is from Devon and we have friends down here so thought it would be a good laugh. It is one of the tougher routes I have done."
Organisers GO2 were delighted with the turnout and the inspirational crowd support shown by Exeter residents.
In addition to the main race, over 250 school children ran a mile as part of the Schools' Challenge. This race was won by Josh Cann from Newton St Cyres, helping to raise money for Make a Wish.
Cancer Research UK and Children's Hospice South West, were the Official Charity Partners for this year's event.
Race organiser Amy Budd said: "Congratulations to each runner who participated in today's race, and thank you to every spectator who took the time to come out and cheer our runners on. You made a huge difference to their race! The changes to the 2013 event have been welcomed by the running community with some extremely positive feedback, as well as the spectators who turned out in their thousands to show their support, particularly in the town centre.
"Everybody had their own special reason for running the race today, whether it was to get fit, reach a personal best, raise money for charity or in training for a marathon, everyone came together and ignited Exeter! We also need to make a special mention to all of our 150 volunteers who helped make the event a success. The race had an amazing atmosphere and we can't wait to return next year."