Marathon route is revealed as Brendan Foster voices hopes that the new event can form part of a journey towards an improved standard of distance and marathon running in Britain
Further details about the new Birmingham International Marathon were revealed at a launch event in the UK’s second city and “home of running” on Thursday, with Brendan Foster – chairman of event organiser The Great Run Company – joined by other running greats such as Basil Heatley, Wendy Sly, Bill Adcocks, Liz McColgan and Ian Stewart (pictured below) to celebrate the new 26.2-miler.
The Birmingham International Marathon, which will take place in October 2017, is to form part of a new three-event Great Run British Marathon Series, with another marathon in the north of the country and one south of Birmingham to be announced in the future.
Organisers hope that the new Birmingham marathon and Great Run British Marathon Series will help to raise the standard of marathon running in the UK. Britain was the dominant force in marathon running in the 1960s but standards have been largely in decline. From 229 sub-2:25 performers in 1983 to 11 in 2007, there has been a small revival in recent years which shows that the time is right for a big addition to the calendar to further boost it.
Aside from the seven-times over-subscribed London Marathon, there are a lack of world-class marathon events in the UK and organisers have an aim of making the Birmingham International Marathon the country’s leading autumn event.
“Our ambition for the Birmingham International Marathon is to do in the autumn what the London Marathon does in spring – to provide a world-class opportunity for top athletes through to people who just want to participate, people who want to raise money for charity,” said Foster.
“You don’t improve the standard of distance running and marathon running in Britain with just one new event, it’s a whole host of activities and initiatives that need to happen,” he added. “This is one big initiative. We hope lots of other people, the powers that be, look at this and say ‘let’s join them on that journey, let’s embrace what they are trying to do’.”
More information on the marathon route, which will start at the Alexander Stadium and finish in the heart of the city centre, was also unveiled at the launch.
From Alexander Stadium – the home of British Athletics and illustrious Birchfield Harriers – participants will pass Villa Park, home to Aston Villa Football Club since 1897. Just past Villa Park is the Grade I listed Aston Hall and as runners leave Aston and continue to the city centre, the home of famous gunsmiths Westley Richards is the next famous landmark to look out for at the heart of Birmingham’s Gun Quarter.
Marathon runners will then pass the start-line for the Great Birmingham Run half-marathon and the iconic Selfridges building before heading out towards the Irish Quarter of Digbeth and Peaky Blinders territory and Cannon Hill Park. World-famous Bournville is next, before participants begin the journey back to the city centre, passing the Edgbaston cricket ground. Then it’s on to the city’s ‘Golden Mile’ of Broad Street and out again for one more lap to complete the 26.2 miles.
“This is another great event for Birmingham and we are delighted that The Great Run Company has chosen Birmingham to put on such a prestigious event,” said Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Raymond Hassall. “In 2017 it will be the 10th year of the half-marathon, which we started in 2008, and that has gone from strength to strength. After 10 years the marathon will be a great addition and I am sure it will also be an overwhelming success.”
McColgan, who broke her first world record in Birmingham in a career which also saw her win world 10,000m gold, Olympic silver, a world half-marathon title and two Commonwealth gold medals as well as the New York, Tokyo International Women’s and London marathons, said: “It’s important that we have these events on home soil. We have to establish world-class racing again in Britain. That is what The Great Run Company is enabling us to do now.”
A reminder service is now open at www.greatrun.org/reminderservice, with general entries open in autumn 2016.
» See the next edition of Athletics Weekly magazine for more on the new event and click here to watch the launch video