European 10,000m silver medallist Chris Thompson heads the British challenge in the half marathon

Stars of the FC Barcelona sporting club will be challenging for honours in the Morrisons Great Birmingham Run this Sunday.

The likes of Luis Suarez and the rest of FC Barcelona’s celebrated footballers will be focusing on La Liga action against Rayo Valecano in the Nou Camp on Saturday night, but two of the Catalan sporting club’s top athletes will be in the running to secure wins in the elite races on the streets of Birmingham.

Ayad Lamdassam is among the top contenders in the elite men’s field, and Alessandra Aguilar will be hoping she can emerge victorious in the elite women’s race.

Originally from Morocca, Lamdassam competes internationally for Spain, and came away with a silver medal in the European Cross Country Championships in 2011. He also finished ninth in the London Marathon two years ago.

Chris Thompson, who has enjoyed success in Barcelona previously when he took the 10,000m silver medal behind his good friend and long-time rival Mo Farah at the 2010 European Championships, will rival Lamdassam for the elite men’s crown.

The race, which takes in several major sites in Birmingham – the Bull Ring, Cadbury World in Bournville and Edgbaston cricket ground – will also see Italy’s Ruggero Pertile, who finished fourth in the World Championship marathon in Beijing in August, and Spain’s Javier Guerrero, who was 13th in the 26.2 mile race in the Chinese capital, among the main contenders to take the spoils.

Further home interest, backing up Thompson, will be former international steeplechaser Luke Gunn, now head athletics coach at the University of Birmingham.

In the women’s race, Aguillar starts with the pedigree of a fifth-placed finisher in a World Championship marathon from Moscow in 2013.

Italy’s Emma Quaglia, who finished one spot behind Aguilar two years ago, will be alongside her on the Birmingham start line on Sunday.

British eyes will be focused on two-time Olympian Helen Clitheroe, the 41-year-old Preston Harrier who won the European indoor 3000m title in 2011 and who represented England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, finishing 11th in the 5000m.

Also in the field are Dominika Napieraj of Poland, Italy’s Laila Soufyane, Maria Diaz of Spain, and Italy’s Agnes Tschurtschenthaler.

Birmingham is also currently known to be angling for the title as the “European Capital of Running” as it attempts to get inactive people from socially deprived areas on their feet and exercising.

A field of thousands will gather behind the elite athletes on Sunday October 18, in the popular half marathon event, which will be shown live on Channel 5 10:00-12:05.