Elite runners and charity fundraisers take to the streets of two of the UK’s biggest cities this October and Channel 5 will have live coverage of both the Great Birmingham Run and Great South Run.
England’s second city plays host the Bupa Great Birmingham Run, the largest half marathon in the Midlands, on Sunday, October 19.
Formerly known as the Birmingham Half Marathon, the event was first staged in staged in 2008 and a year later is was also incorporated into the World Half Marathon Championships, a sign of the run’s growing international interest.
The Great Birmingham Run course, which begins and ends in the heart of the city centre, takes the runners past some of Birmingham’s most famous landmarks, including Edgbaston cricket ground, the Bourneville Chocolate Factory and Cannon Hill Park.
Last yearʼs elite men’s race saw Thomas Ayeko of Uganda power home to win in style and he returns this year to defend his title, but will once again face Britainʼs Chris Thompson who finished runner up in 2013.
Twelve months on, Ayeko has to contend with Josphat Bett, the 24-year-old Kenyan who was in the thick of the dramatic sprint finish to the 10,000m final in Glasgow back in August.
The 2008 world junior champion at the distance, Bett was involved in a gripping three-way battle for the gold up the home straight at Hampden Park, and he returns to British soil with a point to prove.
Canadian Cam Levins, a training partner of Britain’s Olympic hero Mo Farah, burst into the lead off the final bend but then Bett squeezed past him on the inside in the closing stages and celebrated victory as he crossed the line – unaware that he had been pipped by Moses Kipsiro of Uganda.
The British challenge will be led by two members of England’s 2014 Commonwealth Games team in steeplechaser Luke Gunn and marathon man Steve Way.
The elite women’s race features a return to British shores for Linet Masai, the 24-year-old Kenyan who won the 2009 World Championship 10,000m title in Berlin while still a teenager.
The field also includes newly crowned European marathon champion Christelle Daunay of France, Kenya’s 2010 Commonwealth Games 10,000m silver medallist Doris Changeiywo, last year’s Great South Run runner-up Polline Maniku of Kenya and Portugal’s former European 10,000m champion Ana Dulce Felix.
A week later, the Bupa Great South Run, one of the world’s leading ten-mile events, in which 25,000 runners pound the streets and the seafront of Portsmouth and Southsea, will take centre stage on Sunday, October 26.
Every year the event attracts a plethora of athletes, celebrities and runners raising money for good causes, with over £30 million having been raised for charity over the years.
The fast and flat 10 mile route takes in the iconic sites of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard including Portsmouth Cathedral, Spinnaker Tower and the HMS Victory- which has played host to the Band of HM Royal Marines, who often perform for passing runners at the iconic site.
The final stretch along the sea front has given thousands of people the opportunity to get a personal best time since its first staging in the city in 1992, having moved from Southampton which staged the inaugural event the previous year.
World class athletes who have taken part over the years include Sonia O’Sullivan, Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah – who scored the first ever victory by a British male athlete since Gary Staines achieved his third and final success 13 years earlier.
The elite men’s field is led by Commonwealth Games marathon champion Michael Shelley, who will be aiming for a place in the history books when he makes his debut in the Great South Run, as he attempts to become the first Australian athlete to win the race.
Also in the line-up is European 10,000m silver medallist Andy Vernon of Aldershot and Poole’s Steve Way, who finished tenth in the Commonwealth Games marathon.
European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, who was due to head the field in the women’s race, has unfortunately had to withdraw through injury.
Alongside the elite runners, thousands of people will be running to raise money for causes close to their hearts, raising thousands of pounds for charities in the process and their remarkable exploits will feature strongly in Channel 5’s live coverage of both events.
For more information about the Great Birmingham Run and Great South Run, visit greatrun.org.
Channel 5 will broadcast extensive live coverage of the 2014 Great Birmingham Run and Great South Run this October with more than two hours of action from both events.
Former British Olympic sprinter and now respected athletics broadcaster Katherine Merry presents the channel’s live coverage of both events, as fun-runners and elite athletes compete over the courses around the city centres of Birmingham and Portsmouth.
Ivan Gaskell will be reporting from out on the course at both events, while commentary on the elite races comes from veteran athletics broadcaster Stuart Storey and former 5,000m world record holder David Moorcroft.
Athletics fans can catch up with the action they may have missed by watching the entire live broadcast shortly afterwards on Demand 5, available on all devices.
Channel 5 has covered both the Great Birmingham Run and Great South Run since 2011 and the events represent the sole live athletics coverage within the channel’s small sports portfolio, which also includes England summer cricket highlights and live Hennessy Sports boxing.
Sunday 19th October
Great Birmingham Run
LIVE: 10.00am-12.20pm Channel 5
Sunday 26th October
Great South Run
LIVE: 10.00am-12.00pm Channel 5