THOUSANDS of runners have turned out for today's Southend Half Marathon - despite a search for wartime bombs being carried out near its starting point.

About 2,800 people registered to take place in the 13.1mile run around Shoebury ahead of the event and hundreds more registered this morning. 

Organiser Havens Hospices opted to start the race from the grassy area above East Beach, Shoebury, despite the beach being closed for a mine sweep after live explosives were discovered in April.

The charity hopes to raise more than £95,000 for Fair Havens adult hospice, in Chalkwell, and Little Havens Children’s Hospice, in Thundersley, with the annual event.

The council closed East Beach, which it licences from the MoD as a public beach, on May 1 after 15 artillery ormortar shells and a dozen machine guns were found there in just 13 days.

A specialist explosive ordnance disposal team from the Royal Navy Southern Diving Group were continuing to survey the beach for bombs yesterday.

Runners and spectators are asked to respect the exclusion zone around the beach and the charity has recruited extra marshals to assist with this.