The Birmingham Half Marathon (Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run) is an annual half marathon held in the centre of Birmingham. The run costs £36 to enter (£41 for late entries) and if you entered the Simplyhealth Birmingham 10k earlier in the year, you get a £10 discount. The half marathon usually takes place in October, with the 10k taking place in May.
The event attracts over 10,000 entrants each year. Entrants are split into 4 waves depending on their predicted finishing times: Orange, White, Green, and Pink.
I ran this event in 2017, however the course had been almost reversed this year. Last year a lot of people struggled with a steep hill near the finish line. In response to participants, the organizers put the hill at the start of the course, but it was a downhill section instead.
I found the course more interesting this year, and despite the horrid weather conditions there were still a lot of supports on the streets. There was one section which got a little narrow and made it hard to overtake. A lot of the road was narrower than usual though due to large puddles forming the gutter, meaning that people were running more on the right side of the left hand lane. This wasn’t really an issue though and added to the atmosphere in a way as people were running together.
There were pacers for the following times:
- 1hr 30mins
- 1hr 35mins
- 1hr 40mins
- 1hr 45mins
- 1hr 50mins (x2, one in the orange wave, one in the white)
- 2hrs (x2, one in the white wave, one in the green)
- 2hrs 10mins
- 2hrs 20mins (x2, one in the green, one in the pink)
- 2hrs 30mins
There were aid stations at miles 3, just before mile 6, around mile 9.5 and just before mile 12.
SiS energy gels were provided just after mile 7.
There was plenty on course entertainment on the route.
Band on the Run at mile 1, just before mile 2, mile 3, just after mile 5, just after mile 7, mile 8, mile 10, just before mile 11, and finally just before mile 12.
Powersong between miles 3 and 4, and between miles 12 and 13.
As mentioned earlier, there were a lot more spectators on the route than I had expected. Last year was amazing for the crowd support, but the weather had also been warm. This year it didn’t stop raining all day and was windy due to a storm. The weather didn’t stop people coming out to support all of the runners, and the atmosphere was still amazing. There were children out with the parents providing jelly babies and streets. People out cheering everyone on and not just waiting for one particular runner to pass by. This is probably my favourite part of the event, you can guarantee that the crowds will be out in force!
The drawstring goodie bag was actually quite impressive and contained the following:
- A bottle of Aqua Pura water
- A Quaker Breakfast Drink
- An SiS Go Energy Bar
- A packet of Emily Veg Crisps
- A Special K Protein bar
- A sachet Clarks Maple Syrup
- A sachet of Nando’s Peri Peri sauce
- 8 Jointace Omega 3 and Glucosamine capsules
- A foil blanket
- Finisher’s t-shirt
T-shirt and Medal:
I wasn’t keen on last year’s t-shirt and medal design as it was too similar to the Simplyhealth 10k event which was held earlier in the year. This year, I did not enter the earlier 10k and was very happy with the t-shirt and medal designs used for the half marathon. I have taken a look at the medal for the 10k, and although they are the same shape, they aren’t almost identical like the previous year. I really like the t-shirt design as the colours are grey and red, but most importantly, it actually states 13.1 miles on it. Last year’s t-shirt just said “Great Birmingham Run 2017 Finisher”.
Even with the horrendous weather, this event was still amazing. The atmosphere at these events is always superb thanks to the on course entertainment and amazing spectator support. I much preferred the course this year and hope that it remains the same for 2019. The price isn’t too bad for a fully closed road event with a lot of entertainment, aid stations and a packed goodie bag, t-shirt and medal.
I would definitely recommend this event and am grateful that it is fairly local so that I can enter every year without too much hassle!
You can view my results post here.