This Sunday (18 October) will see Birmingham host the eighth staging of its popular half marathon and it looks like it might be a Catalan affair with two of FC Barcelona’s sporting clubs athletes heading the elite field. Up to 22,000 runners are expected to compete, a fitting turnout for the city in its pursuit of the title European Capital of Running.
The Morrisons Great Birmingham Run will take runners from the iconic city centre backdrop south towards the world famous cricketing arena of Edgbaston and on to Bournville, the home of Cadbury World. Although in a change to last year’s course, the race will start in Jennens Road outside Birmingham Metropolitan College.
Last year’s event witnessed a surprise winner in Joel Kimutai, who finished ahead of pre-race favourites Emmanuel Bett and Thomas Ayeko to take victory. It was Kenyan domination in the female competition, with Run Fast’s Polline Wanjiku taking top place in 1:10:48, followed by Doris Changeiuwo in 1:11:29 and Linet Masai in 1:11:45.
This Sunday however, Barca runners Ayad Lamdassam and Alessandra Aguilar are both looking strong in their respective fields. Lamdassam, originally from Morocco, was a silver medallist for Spain in the European cross country championships in 2011. The 34-year-old boasts a half marathon PB of 1:01:22. Aguillar, meanwhile, has a similarly impressive profile with a 1:10:56 over the same distance.
British interest is likely to lie with Chris Thompson, who looks in fine form after winning last month’s Richmond 10K in a time of 28:58. Thompson may well be competing high up in the field alongside Derby AC’s Luke Gunn. With a half marathon PB of 1:10:57, Preston Harrier Helen Clitheroe could easily find herself on the podium positions in the women’s field.
As ever with events in the Great Run series, Sunday’s race will represent a prime opportunity for newcomers, recreational and club runners to compete in a large scale city event. Weather is forecast to be dry, with temperatures around between 9-11ºC. The race will also be shown live on Channel 5 from 10:00 – 12:05.