A look ahead to the Bupa Great Birmingham Run where Tariku Bekele and Gemma Steel are among the athletes in action
Tariku Bekele, the Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist, heads the Bupa Great Birmingham Run field on Sunday and will be attacking the course record of 60:17 set by Micah Kogo of Kenya in this IAAF silver label road race.
The 26-year-old competed in Birmingham twice last year and set PBs – for two miles indoors of 8:08.27 and for 10,000m in 27:03.24 during the summer – and recently clocked 63:21 in Lisbon over 13.1 miles.
The Ethiopian’s main rivals this weekend will be Abdi Abdirahman of the United States and the aptly named Australian Collis Birmingham, while Chris Thompson provides the main domestic challenge.
Gemma Steel is fresh from posting the fastest stage at the national four-stage road relays and will be aiming to regain the Birmingham Half title she won in 2011.
The 27-year-old, who already has the Bupa Great North 10k and Bupa Great Yorkshire Run titles under her belt this year, faces the likes of Olga Kotovska of Ukraine plus fellow Brits Lauren Howarth and Elle Baker, while David Weir and Jade Jones lead the wheelchair race entries.
Six-time Paralympic gold medallist Weir goes up against fellow Britons Simon Lawson, Matt Clarke and Stuart Bloor, while Jones will face the likes of Jane Egan, runner-up at the recent Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run.
The course, which hosted the IAAF World Half-marathon Championships in 2009 and has a roll of honour that includes Haile Gebrselassie, takes in some of the city’s most iconic sights including the Bullring, the Cadbury’s factory in Bournville and the Edgbaston cricket ground, with the finish in Broad Street in the heart of the city.
Meanwhile, a record number of teams have been entered into the Great Run Club Challenge. A total of 26 clubs will field mixed teams – an increase of 12 from last year’s half-marathon event, in the hope of winning a trip to Addis Ababa and the Great Ethiopian Run on November 24. The total number of club runners lining up at the start line in Birmingham on Sunday is expected to exceed 2000.
» The Bupa Great Birmingham Run will be shown live on Channel 5 from 10.00am on Sunday October 20