Marathoners to be joined by likes of Ryan McLeod and half marathon debutante Charlotte Purdue in Reading on Sunday

Olympic marathoner Scott Overall leads a top-class field at Sunday’s Mizuno Reading Half Marathon, the first event in this year’s RunBritain Grand Prix series.

The Blackheath & Bromley athlete is expected to face tough opposition, though, from the likes of Ryan McLeod, Jonny Hay, John Beattie, Lee Merrien and Nick Torry, with 66 men in the field having broken 70 minutes.

It is expected the women’s event will also be keenly contested as Alyson Dixon and Sonia Samuels are due to toe the line and give Susan Partridge a good race. Tish Jones was the leading Brit last year and is expected to improve her 76:36, while Lorna Russell, Caryl Jones, Faye Fullerton, Natalie Harvey, Rebecca Robinson and Amy Whitehead are also in the field that has 25 sub-80 athletes. Charlotte Purdue is due to make her half marathon debut.

The 2013 race was affected by the weather with cold, rain and sleet slowing the times of race winners Andrew Lesuda and Emily Biwott.

RunBritain Grand Prix gets underway

The Mizuno Reading Half Marathon also starts off the big-money RunBritain Grand Prix for 2014. While the overall top three in both the men’s and women’s races will take home £1000, £500 and £250 respectively, the first, second and third runners qualified to run for GB will take home £2500, £1500 & £1000, with even the tenth British man and woman pocketing £100.

Financial bonuses will be awarded to men who run the course in under 65:00 and women who run faster than 73:00 and these can total £21,000.

Under RunBritain rules, British athletes will also earn points for finishing in the top 250 of the men’s and women’s races. Additional points will be awarded to men who run faster than 65:00 and women who run faster than 71:00. The best four scores from the six available races count at the end of the series, where prize money for the Grand Prix totals £18,000 and is shared by the top 10 male and female British runners.

In the race itself, veterans have not been forgotten either as the top three will take home £500, £300 and £200 with further awards for the best M45, M50 and M60. Among the latter will be world M60 record-holder Martin Rees. Leading the women veterans will be top W40s Emma Stepto and Andrea Whitcombe. Up to 16,500 will set off when the race gets under way at 10am.