A World-Record Attempt

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Ski Sunday comes to Birmingham as half marathon runner attempts new world record at AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run

· Tom hopes to be the first male to complete half marathon in ski boots

· Women’s world record for half marathon in ski boots is 3hrs 5mins

· Great Birmingham Run inviting fancy dress and fun on Sunday, 7 May

If there’s one thing guaranteed to get a rousing cheer from the crowds at this year’s AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run, it’s the runners who have chosen to make life even harder for themselves.

While a 10k or half marathon is certainly a challenge in itself, there are always those who go that one step further.

For 23-year-old Tom Bracey, he’s chosen to tackle this year’s course in ski boots… and is hoping to set an official World Record in the process.

As a hardened runner and a life-long skier, he has decided to combine both his passions at the AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run, on Sunday, 7th May.

“I have always been into sports and ran the London Marathon in 2019. I have done a few half marathons too, but felt motivated to do something different,” he explains.

“I was intrigued at the idea of going for a world record and as someone who is massively into skiing, I thought why not give it a go.

“The only half-marathon world record for running in ski boots is currently only held in the female category so I applied to Guinness World Records for the male category. There’s a long process that you have to go through but my application and boots have finally been approved.”

Tom has already tackled 5k in his old ski boots and will be ramping up his training in a new pair once he returns from a trip to the slopes in March. “After that, I’ll try my first 10k in them. My new boots are slightly more lightweight but they are still very rigid. They don’t have any of the flexibility of trainers, so you get less muscle stretch and it really punishes your calves.”

The trainee accountant at EY fell in love with running when he was a student at Edinburgh University, finding it the perfect escape from his studies. “I loved that in five minutes I could be on the coast or at the top of a mountain. It helped manage my stress at uni; I can put happy music on shuffle on Spotify and feel free.”

Now living in Jewellery Quarter, his new running routes take him along Birmingham’s canal network. “I’ll be doing my training there rather than through the city centre. Hopefully that way less people will see me struggling!”

It’s not the first time he’s opted for a wacky choice of clothing. His impressive London marathon time of 3hrs 46mins was completed wearing a bright pink tutu. “The women’s world record for running a half marathon in ski boots is 3hrs 5mins, and Guinness World Records have set the time to be beaten at three hours. So far, my PB for a half in trainers is 1hr 35mins. So that gives me 1hr 25mins to play with to get the record.”

Tom won’t be alone in choosing to don an out-of-the-ordinary outfit. The Midlands’ biggest and best running event is renowned for attracting fancy dress runners – most of whom are doing it as a personal challenge rather than a world record attempt. A few years ago one runner completed it dressed in full Purple Reign era Prince and organisers are encouraging others to embrace their running colours for 2023.

This year’s 10k and half marathon take place during May Bank Holiday weekend, with the routes showcasing the best of Birmingham. Participants will kick off on Broad Street before taking to the streets through historic St Paul’s Square and heading south towards Digbeth; while the city’s famous Cannon Hill Park is included in the 13.1-mile route. The finish line is at the Smithfield site near Bullring, home to Commonwealth Games beach volleyball and basketball.

Entries are open now to join thousands of runners and walkers who have set their own challenges or are raising cash for charity. Everyone who completes their race receives an AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run medal, an exclusive (optional) finisher’s T-shirt and a goodie bag.

Free-to-download training plans aimed at all abilities for both 10k and half marathons are available and there’s also a Business Challenge for work colleagues or like-minded mates who run for charity or work foundation.

Tom is running for Protect our Winters UK (POW), who help provide system solutions to campaign against climate change.

“As a strong advocate for sustainability, I thought this would be a great opportunity to align my passion for sustainability and snowsports to help raise money for a great cause,” he adds.

To donate to Tom’s fundraising campaign visit here.

Sign up for The AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run here.