This Sunday (10th March) sees the Vitality Big Half return to the streets of London. After a successful inaugural event last year it’s back, promising to be even bigger and better.
14,000 runners will set off from close to Tower Bridge at 9am, head east towards Canary Wharf, loop back and cross Tower Bridge before heading to a finish at the historic Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
At the sharp end in the men’s race Sir Mo Farah who will be looking to defend the title he won last year as part of his warm-up for this year’s London Marathon. But he will face stiff competition from a pair of Kenyans who are both former London Marathon winners, Daniel Wanjiru and Wilson Kipsang. There will also be competition from Dewi Griffiths (who ran 61:44 last month, Andy Vernon, Jonny Mellor, Joshua Griffiths and Matt Sharp.
In the women’s race Charlotte Purdue, last year’s winner (with 70:29, the 10th fastest half marathon time in British history) will return. Last year’s second and third placed women, Lily Partridge and Charlotte Arter will also be back. Steph Twell, who ran 2:30:11 in her debut marathon in Valencia in December, will be making her debut in the event. Tracy Barlow, Gemma Steel and Sonia Samuels are also confirmed to take part, so the women’s race promises to be a very exciting one.
Eight-time London Marathon champion David Weir leads the entries in the men’s wheelchair race while three-time Paralympic medallist Shelly Woods will be aiming for victory in the women’s wheelchair race while Derek Rae will compete in the ambulant category.
But this event is about so much more than the elite race. More than 4,000 community runners – participants from the four London boroughs the event passes through, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich – will be taking part. The aim of The Vitality Big Half is to create an event that truly reflects the boroughs and neighbourhoods it passes through and to encourage more people, from all backgrounds, to take up running. To achieve this, community groups from the four boroughs of the race were able to enter runners for just £10 per participant. Among this group of runners are community champions of The Vitality Big Half’s #MovedbyLondon campaign. Runners who are trying to change the perception of running in their communities.
And as well as the half marathon there are another two running events taking place on the same day. The Little Half is a 2.4-mile run that starts at 12:45 in Southwark Park and joins the final miles of The Vitality Big Half to finish at the Cutty Sark. More than 1,770 people have signed up to run the event which is open to all ages. The third running event is The Vitality Big Mile which will take place inside Greenwich Park and finish in The Vitality Big Festival. There is a running wave which starts at 12:30 and a walking/jogging wave that gets under way at 13:00.
The free Vitality Big Festival will keep runners, spectators, residents and visitors to Greenwich entertained throughout the day from 10:00-16:00 with a wide-range of entertainment.
The Vitality Big Half is live on the BBC Red Button from 08:45 to 12:20 on Sunday.
For more information on The Vitality Big Half, visit www.thebighalf.co.uk