‘Running’s coming home’ was the message being relayed from a medal ceremony organised by the Great Run Company today as general entries opened for the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon.
Tony Audenshaw, who plays Bob Hope in Emmerdale, is a keen runner who holds world records for running in fancy dress and plans to run the marathon on behalf of official Birmingham International Marathon charity Bloodwise. Tony was joined by Handsworth-born Olympian Ian Stewart and Cllr Paulette Hamilton, Cabinet member for Health and Social Care, at Birmingham Town Hall as the countdown to Brum’s first marathon since 1989 gathered momentum.
They were pictured in front of a giant medal alongside 2015 Great Birmingham Run champion Chris Thompson and inspirational amateur runners Steve Edwards and Shah Begum.
Birmingham is widely regarded as the birthplace of mass participation long-distance running events and the Birmingham International Marathon will cement the city’s position as the European Capital of Running.
It also promises to be a medal of honour for Birmingham’s bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, announced last Friday.
The 26.2-mile route will fittingly start at Alexander Stadium, the home of British Athletics.
It will take in several iconic city sights like Villa Park, Matthew Boulton College, Selfridges, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and the picturesque Cannon Hill Park before finishing at Millennium Point.
Brendan Foster, chairman of the Great Run Company, said:
We aim to make the Birmingham International Marathon a world-class event that attracts runners of all abilities and it has already had huge levels of interest.
With over 15,000 people signing up for the event reminder service, the response from the people of Birmingham has been magnificent.
We’re looking forward to seeing stories about inspirational entrants – from top athletes right through to people running for charity – in the coming months.
Birmingham staged one of the country’s first open-to-all marathons, the People’s Marathon, which ran from 1980-85 and was organised by late Solihull-based elite runner John Walker.
The debut People’s Marathon was held a year before the first London Marathon and Athletics Weekly predicted at the time that it would be ‘the event which triggered off the mass long-distance running movement in this country’.
The 2017 Birmingham International Marathon will be held on the same day as the Great Birmingham Run but neither course will include ‘the hill’.
Ian Stewart, who won gold in the 5,000m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, added:
There’s been a real air of excitement around the city since the Birmingham International Marathon announcement earlier this year.
“It’s shaping up to be a big international event which will hopefully grow and grow and become a huge feather in the cap for the city’s Commonwealth Games bid.
The first Birmingham International Marathon will be a milestone for Steve Edwards, one of the world’s leading multi-marathon runners. He plans to run his 800th marathon in Brum and maintain his record of completing each challenge in under 3hrs20mins.
Conversely, Aston mum Shah Begum is planning to tackle her first marathon. Since taking up running, she shed six stone in just 18 months and is about to take on her first half marathon at the Great Birmingham Run on October 16, having completed her opening 10k, at the Great Birmingham 10k, in May.
Entry for the Birmingham International Marathon costs £55 and entrants must be 18 on the day of the event. The provisional entry limit is 10,000.
To sign up, visit: http://www.greatrun.org/birmingham-international-marathon