Great Birmingham Run Elite Field

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

England's Second City is bidding to become officially known as the European Capital of Running and, fittingly, the eight edition of the hugely popular half marathon will have a continental feel to it at the sharp end.

While Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and the rest of FC Barcelona's celebrated footballers will be concentrating on La Liga action against Rayo Valecano in the Nou Camp on Saturday night, two of the Catalan sporting club's leading athletes will be attempting to secure wins in the elite races on the streets of Birmingham on Sunday morning.

Ayad Lamdassam is one of the leading contenders in the elite men's field, while Alessandra Aguilar will be looking to emerge victorious from the elite women's field.

Lamdassam, originally from Morocco, was a silver medallist for Spain in the European cross country championships in 2011. He finished ninth in the London Marathon two years ago.

Lamdassam's rivals in Sunday's race, which takes in several major sites in Birmingham – the Bull Ring, Cadbury World in Bournville and Edgbaston cricket ground – will include a Cumbrian who has made his sporting mark in Barcelona.

Chris Thompson, who was born in Barrow but runs for Aldershot, Farnham and District, took the 10,000m silver medal behind his good friend and long-time rival Mo Farah at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona's Montjuic Stadium.

Also in the field are 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.

Further European interest will be provided by Romania's Marius Ionescu, Portugal's Hermano Ferreira, Roman Fosti of Estonia and Sondre Norstad Moen of Norway.

Backing up Thompson on the home front will be Derby AC's Luke Gunn, the international steeplechaser who works 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. That was achieved in Moscow in 2013.

One place behind the Spaniard that day was Italy's Emma Quaglia, who will be alongside her on the Birmingham start line on Sunday.

British interest will be focused on Helen Clitheroe, the 41-year-old Preston Harrier who won the European indoor 3,000m 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.

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