Only 250 places remaining – to enter the Birmingham International Marathon click here
RUNNING'S coming home – and so are the two honorary Brummies making the staggering 10,000-mile round trip to take on the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon.
Cayman Islands-based couple Chris and Kym Bailey are among over 8,000 runners to sign up for the Sunday, October 15 event – the first 26.2-mile race in the Second City for almost three decades.
But few of the entrants will have to complete the marathon 16-hour journey that awaits Chris, originally from Harborne, and his Solihull-born wife Kym to be at the Alexander Stadium start line.
And they will have double reason to celebrate after passing the Millennium Point finishing post – Kym's dad David Humphries' 70th birthday falls on the same day.
“Chris and I have entered running events in various countries,” explained Kym, 45, a mobile personal trainer.
“So when dad saw that a marathon was coming back to Birmingham, he emailed me the link and said ‘you run all over the United States, so you have to run one in your home city'!
“The fact the first Birmingham International Marathon takes place on his big birthday suggests it was meant to happen. Hopefully, we'll be going for a massive roast dinner afterwards to refuel and celebrate.”
Birmingham is widely regarded as the birthplace of open-to-all marathons thanks to the People's Marathon, which ran from 1980-85 and began a year before the London Marathon.
The Birmingham International Marathon, already on target to become one of the UK's top six marathons, will take in iconic city sights like Villa Park, Selfridges, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and picturesque Cannon Hill Park.
But with only 19 weeks to go, anyone planning to enter needs to make a dash for it, as less than 800 places remain.
“It's going to be an amazing nostalgic run around the city we used to call home,” said Chris, 39, HR director for Price Waterhouse Cooper.
“Due to the high cost and travelling time, we don't get back to see our families that often.
“But when my father-in-law asked us to come home for his birthday and run around a city he takes great pride in, how could we refuse?”
Chris, a former Hagley RC High School pupil, and Kym, who went to Shirley-based Light Hall School and Solihull Sixth Form College, have been living on Grand Cayman for almost six years.
“We're helping to make it a truly international event, aren't we?” quipped Kym.
“Having run the Chicago Marathon, I've seen what it does for that city, both in terms of tourism and revenue. There are around 1.5million people watching on the course – there's not an inch of the route without spectators cheering on the runners.
“Hopefully, the Birmingham International Marathon can also be a major positive for the city.
“Because people are proud of Brum, I'm hoping they will come out and support us. It makes such a difference when you're running.”
Chris has been on an incredible journey of a different kind – losing a staggering five stone.
He topped the scales at 24 stone when the couple originally left Blighty ten years ago to move to Bermuda – but is now a changed man.
“I was quite unhealthy, but the last couple of years have seen a huge change in my lifestyle,” he said.
“I've lost loads of weight and taken up several charitable challenges, included a 640-mile run/cycle/swim, raising $30,000 for the Guatemala literacy project.
“Last year, I completed three 70.3 Ironman events for local charities and have now entered the full Ironman Florida event in November, just three weeks after the Birmingham International Marathon!
“Kym is also really keen to put in a great time at the marathon that's bringing us home, if only for a little while.”
Kym, who met Chris at Broad Street's Sports Café in 1999, has achieved similarly incredible feats since rediscovering her love for running four years ago.
“I ran for my school but stopped when boys and parties became more appealing!” she admitted.
“There's a big outdoor running community on Grand Cayman and four years ago, I joined some friends in a 5k race and came first in my age group! I then got the bug.
“On the Cayman Islands, I've been the female winner of 5k, half marathon and 30k events.
“We make sure any trips abroad coincide with running events. I've done the Miami and Havana half marathons and Chicago marathon twice. I also ran a personal best of 3:25hrs at the Boston Marathon in April and plan to run all the world's big six marathons.
“The funny thing is that Chris hates running with a passion. He much prefers the cycling and swimming parts of his triathlons!”
With the Birmingham International Marathon taking place on the same day as the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon, Chris and Kym could be running through the city with around 25,000 people.
However, training in their Caribbean climate will put them at a disadvantage.
“The temperature never really drops below mid-70s,” said Kym.
“Every time I've visited England it's been summer but it's still felt cold. It'll be even worse in October!
“Also, Grand Cayman is completely flat. For hill training, I have to run up car park ramps!
“So it's going to be tough, but I'm really looking forward to running in my home city.”
Chris and Kym also plan to get reacquainted with Birmingham culture.
“We can't wait to see our families, who we miss dearly,” said Kym.
“I miss popping into the Bull Ring and although the restaurants on Grand Cayman are amazing, there's nothing like a Brummie Balti! I have one every time I come home.
“The recent developments in the city centre have been amazing so we're looking forward to coming back and seeing what else has happened since we last visited.”
Anyone who entered the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k will receive a £10 discount for either the Birmingham International Marathon or the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon.