Birmingham Half Marathon 2009 is go

Entries are now open for this year’s Birmingham Half Marathon taking place on Sunday October 11th. The route is changed to a flatter south Birmingham one (from last year’s undulating north/west Birmingham one) that happens to go very close to my house in Bournville. There are some undulations as you come into Bournville and it looks like the last half mile is a bit uphill but other than that it’s relatively flat. I’ve mapped an approximation of the route in g-maps:

Birmingham Half Marathon 2009 route

This year’s event incorporates the World half-marathon championships so there’ll be an elite field competing for quarter of a million dollars in prize money. I still have a vague hope that Paula Radcliffe will squeeze it into her schedule as it would form the perfect build up to the New York marathon in November.

Even if she doesn’t show then rest assured I will – my entry is already in. Online entry attracts a hefty booking fee of £3.10 so it may be worth just printing out the form and putting it in the post. The race may well fill up early this year so do get your entries in ASAP.

Birmingham half-marathon 2009


Presumably the city council will update their own site soon but it’s worth noting that this year’s Birmingham half-marathon on October 11th is also the world half-marathon championships. That means us casual Brummie runners will be racing with the world’s elite.

The IAAF page on the event is quite illuminating. From it you can glean that the elite women will start separately from the men at 9am with the men (and probably the rest of the field) starting at 9.30am. No word on whether the route will change but you do learn that top prize is $30,000 (puts my £30 to shame) and that “the payment of prize money is dependent upon the athletes clearing the usual anti-doping procedures.” I best leave my steroid-based asthma inhalers at home then.

The IAAF do a nice little descriptor of Brum: “This city has been the industrial heartland of the country; it is still important industrially but this has also made way for an increasingly high position in the service sector.” Yep – about sums it up. Of course I’m still hoping my prediction for Paula Radcliffe to run it as a warm-up for the New York marathon comes true but most of all I hope it’s as good a race this year as it was last time around.

(nice pic from Flickr by hartlandmartin. Note Bournville Harriers’ star female athlete Linda keeping those guys on their toes)

Paula Radcliffe to run 2009 Birmingham Half marathon

…according to Monday’s Guardian anyway:

“November 2009: Three marathons in a year might be tough but will she resist the temptation of being back in New York? She might opt for the world half marathon the month before in Birmingham as well”

 

In fact I’d mentioned this as a possibility to a couple of people recently and there is some logic in thinking she’ll come to Brum. This year she would have gone to the world half marathon championship as preparation for running the New York Marathon which she won in style on Sunday. However, as the halves were in Brazil she opted for the 10 mile Great South Run instead.

So next year, if she decides to run New York again, I reckon the Guardian have it spot on and she’ll come to next year’s world halves in Birmingham in October as well. Now that would be just great, both for the city as a whole and for us runners who would have the privilege of running in the same race as her in our home town. The thought of Paula legging it past the Bartons Arms and avoiding bolshy Sunday shoppers at the back of Rackhams fills me with glee. Bring it on!

(pic by matt semel)

Birmingham Half Marathon race report

So that was the first ever Birmingham Half Marathon. All told it was pretty good. Here’s a brief report on the day:

It was of course a horrible night weather-wise (not as bad as up in the Lake District of course but thank goodness all the runners there are safe). By the time a group of eight of us got into a shared taxi at 7.40am it was just down to light drizzle and had stopped by the time the race started. I have no doubt that any complaints about the race will be based around the traffic at the start (big queues to park) and the loos (big queues to wee). Neither affected me much but I suspect the former was responsible for the 15 minute delay at the start. The pen system at the start worked well with runners starting according to their predicted finishing time.

The race was off by 9.45am and I have to say that it felt great to run on such wide roads. There was no runner congestion and generally good support all around. The underpasses and flyovers of Perry Barr were on the undulating side and running through the centre of town was fun but the really tricky hills were in Edgbaston. Every corner you turned seemed to be another uphill. The support on these roads was great and the water stations were well placed. Big thanks to Helen Foot who acted as my support crew by having a sickly orange energy gel ready for me at about mile 6.

The last two miles of this course are great. Given how tired my legs were after yesterday’s cross-country efforts I probably didn’t make the most of the two mile ever-so-slightly-downhill section but I gathered a little speed as I came past the large crowds lining Broad Street. An attempted sprint finish didn’t quite come off but I finished 96th in 1hr 27 min 11 sec. That’s a second best time for me at this distance. 

Overall there were about 40 Bournville Harriers running. Four of them were ahead of me with a couple of personal bests being achieved. Full results are online now. Well done to all.

I think the race was a triumph but I’ve no doubt there’ll gripes, especially from runners themselves (not flat enough, not scenic enough, no chocolate in the goody bag – runners can be a miserable bunch). But anyone who got themselves organised enough to arrive early, took in the atmosphere (lots of music along the way as well) and had the right attitude will have come away with a smile on their face as well as a medal around their necks.

By way of an aside yesterday’s cross-country was great as usual, and of course, muddy:

(pics Paul Foot although it must have been his wife Helen as Paul was one of the people stuck up a mountain in the Lake District)

Running on the Birmingham Plateau

They’ve published the course profile for the Birmingham Half marathon and it turns out that despite Birmingham being largely flat, the course isn’t. This is partly because we have to trudge up overpasses (Perry Barr) and pull ourselves out of underpasses (Lancaster Circus, Five Ways).

That last long dip is the 2+ mile downhill run from Bearwood to Centenary Square – presumably the blip in it is coming out of the underpass at Five Ways but it should be nice and fast if I’ve got any energy left. There are some minor route changes to the orginal published route.

Given this is the ‘Race for Climate Change’ the logistics of getting to the start are still built too much around using your car. There’s a shuttle bus from the city centre but they could have partnered with a car sharing scheme or at least, like London, put on extra regular buses and trains (Perry Barr station would only be as far from the start as Blakheath is from the London start – alas the first train that Sunday is well after the race has begun). If the race grows (9000 this year) then they’ll have to put other measures into place to encourage/force runners to use public transport.

As it stands I’ll be trying to scrounge a lift from Bournville – any offers?