THEY are the inspiring volunteers who provide motivation, water and even sweets to tired runners.

But this year’s Southampton marathon ‘Milemakers’ could also earn themselves a treat of their own.

ABP, the main sponsors of the event, are offering a slice of a £9,000 pot for community groups who offer to volunteer at this year’s marathon, on April 22.

Port bosses say they will donate £250 to every non-profit group that puts forward 20 or more people to volunteer as ‘ABP Milemakers’ on race day.

Milemakers are tasked with cheering on runners at each mile and keeping them motivated with everything from inspiring placards to sweets and water.

They also provide marshalling duties and direct runners.

Organisers looking for at least 35 teams to volunteer this year.

Alastair Welch, ABP Southampton director, said: “We’re truly grateful to our volunteering heroes, which is why we’re pleased to donate to the community groups that roll up their sleeves and take part.”

Nikki Rees, from the ABP Southampton Marathon, added: “Runners tell us it’s one of the most well-supported races around and the cheering of volunteers and supporters really helps them dig deep when the going gets tough.”

Over the past three years more than 2000 people from groups as diverse as the Sea Scouts to the Women’s Refuge have got involved as ABP Milemakers.

Last year, 34 community groups received £250 each and more than 45 local groups or projects have directly benefitted from the funding.

This includes 1st Testwood Guides, who were able to go on a kayaking trip on Beaulieu River.

This year’s event features a 10k, half marathon and children’s mile fun run as well as a full marathon.

All races start and finish in the heart of Southampton’s city centre with the run course taking in iconic local landmarks including the Bargate and Itchen Bridge.

To volunteer, call: 023 8027 3657.