Second City Ready For Great Birmingham Run Weekend

Entries are still being taken for the Junior and Mini Great Birmingham Run and are available here or in person by visiting Up & Running on Temple Street, Birmingham between 10am and 4.00pm on Saturday 15 October.

UP TO 20,000 runners will take part in the Great Birmingham Run this weekend as England's second city will once again host thousands of runners following May's Great Birmingham 10K, with participants taking on the half marathon distance in an event that attracts competitors from around the world.

The event comprises of a half marathon alongside a Junior and Mini Great Birmingham Run and takes in an iconic route which will include Birmingham sights such as the Bullring, Cadbury World in Bournville and Edgbaston cricket ground.

Chris Thompson will defend his Great Birmingham Run title in the elite men's event, which is broadcast live on Channel Five.

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, the likes of Andy Vernon and Koen Naert will seek to make life difficult for Thompson.

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.

While Thompson and Vernon spearhead the homegrown hopes, there will be stiff competition from some European big hitters on October 16 in an event which will strengthen Birmingham's status as European Capital of Running. Romania's Marius Ionescu, who was victorious in last year's Dusseldorf Marathon, will vie with Ukrainian 10K record holder Roman Romanenko to compete for honours.

In the women's race, Sonia Samuels will take on a strong European field over the 13.1-mile course. Samuels represented Great Britain in Rio over the marathon and the Sale Harrier will face competition from Belgium's Almenisch Belete. Ukraine's Olha Kotovska and Romania's Madalina Florea.

Meanwhile, celebrities from the screen and stage will also be taking part in the half marathon, with presenter and fitness author Nell McAndrew signing up. Emmerdale's Chris Chittell, who plays Eric Pollard will be supporting the event whilst Casualty's George Rainsford will also be on the start line. Free Radio presenter Gemma Hill will be joined by Olympic diver Leon Taylor and Gary Poulton, a contestant on 2015's The Apprentice.

There will be a strong contingent of charity runners raising thousands of pounds for good causes. Birmingham Children's Hospital will have a team of 1,000 runners participating to raise funds.

The Business Challenge returns for the 2016 staging of the Great Birmingham Run, where small, medium and large businesses can enter male, female and mixed teams with prizes on offer to the first three teams in each category. An engraved trophy will be awarded for the winning team while every company that enters 12 or more employees will receive their own personalised company engraved plate.

The Junior and Mini events take place earlier in the day on Broad Street, where the half marathon will finish, making it a great family day out.

The half marathon follows the announcement that general entries are open for the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon which takes place alongside the existing half marathon on October 15, 2017.

Great Run Company Communications Director David Hart said: “We can't wait to welcome runners from around the world to Birmingham for the Great Birmingham Run.

“We're delighted that this event continues to be a popular addition to the running calendar and that people of all abilities can come together and get active in such a fantastic setting in one of the country's best cities for running.”

The Great Birmingham Run is televised on Channel 5 from 10am until 12noon.

Entries are still being taken for the Junior and Mini Great Birmingham Run and are available here or in person by visiting Up & Running on Temple Street, Birmingham between 10am and 4.00pm on Saturday 15 October.