A host of Midlands running personalities came together on Tuesday (4 October) as entries opened for the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon. Emmerdale star and running enthusiast Tony Audenshaw (aka Bob Hope) joined 2015 Great Birmingham Run champion Chris Thompson and inspirational amateur runners Steve Edwards and Shah Begum (pictured) for the big launch. Handsworth-born Olympian Ian Stewart, was also in attendance.
‘Running’s coming home’ was the message being relayed from race organiser the Great Run Company as general entries opened for the new event. Birmingham is widely regarded as the birthplace of mass participation long-distance running events - it staged one of the country’s first open-to-all marathons, the People’s Marathon, which ran from 1980-85. Now the Birmingham International Marathon will cement the city’s position as the European Capital of Running and also promises to provide a real boost for Birmingham’s bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Despite the glamour and prestige surrounding the new autumn marathon, it is an event aimed squarely at recreational runners. Anyone can now sign up for the big race which will be staged on Sunday, 15 October, 2017.
The 26.2-mile route will fittingly start at Alexander Stadium, the home of British Athletics. It will take in several iconic city sights Villa Park, Matthew Boulton College, Selfridges, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and the picturesque Cannon Hill Park before finishing at Millennium Point.
Brendan Foster, chairman of the Great Run Company, said: “We aim to make the Birmingham International Marathon a world-class event that attracts runners of all abilities and it has already had huge levels of interest. With over 15,000 people signing up for the event reminder service, the response from the people of Birmingham has been magnificent.
Ian Stewart, who won gold in the 5,000m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, added: “There’s been a real air of excitement around the city since the Birmingham International Marathon announcement earlier this year. It’s shaping up to be a big international event which will hopefully grow and grow and become a huge feather in the cap for the city’s Commonwealth Games bid.”
The first Birmingham International Marathon will be a milestone for Steve Edwards, one of the world’s leading multi-marathon runners. He plans to run his 800th marathon in Brum. Meanwhile Aston mum Shah Begum is planning to tackle her first marathon. Since taking up running, she has lost six stone in just 18 months and is about to take on her first half marathon at the Great Birmingham Run on October 16, having completed her opening 10k, at the Great Birmingham 10k, in May.
Entry for the Birmingham International Marathon costs £55 and entrants must be 18 on the day of the event. The provisional entry limit is 10,000. Details at the Great Run website.