CHRIS THOMPSON will defend his Great Birmingham Run title when the half marathon returns to the Second City next month.
Victory for Thompson in the 2015 staging of the event marked a return to form following a lengthy struggle with an Achilles and calf injury.
While the 35-year-old athlete will be looking to score two Great Birmingham Run victories on the bounce on Sunday, October 16, the likes of Andy Vernon and Bashir Abdi will seek to make life difficult for Thompson, who finished seventh in the Great North Run half marathon.
Nevertheless, Thompson is targeting victory back on the undulating course which he knows so well.
He said: “I’d like to win in Birmingham. I know the course well, which can be an advantage, especially on a course like Birmingham.
“If you know the intricate details –I’ve done it a couple of times now, I know how to manage my body on it, even if I’m having a bad day – it certainly helps you.”
Meanwhile, Vernon returns to the roads having represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, finishing 25th in the 10,000m clocking 28.19.36. The 30-year-old European silver and bronze medallist will be tackling his first half marathon since finishing sixth in 2014’s Great North Run.
Abdi was fourth in last week’s Great North Run, clocking 62.01 in his fastest 13.1miles over the course from Newcastle to South Shields. The Belgian will look to continue his progress with a strong performance on the road in Birmingham.
While Thompson and Vernon spearhead the homegrown hopes, there will be stiff competition from some European big hitters on October 16. Sweden’s Mikael Ekvall, who represented Sweden in the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff earlier this year, will vie with Romania’s Marius Ionescu, who was victorious in last year’s Dusseldorf Marathon, while Ukrainian 10K record holder Roman Romanenko is also expected to compete for honours.
There is still time to join the elite runners on the start line on October 16. And, this year, entrants for this year’s 13.1-mile race through the city – taking in famous landmarks including the Bullring, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and Cadbury’s – will be given priority entry to the Birmingham International Marathon to be staged for the first time on October 15, 2017.
Meanwhile, anyone who ran this year’s Great Birmingham 10k is eligible for an exclusive £10 discount to take part.
For more information, visit greatrun.org/Birmingham
The Great Birmingham Run will be televised live on Channel 5 from 10am until 12noon.