28th February 2020
BRITISH CHAMPIONS AND WORLD HALF MARATHON PLACES TO BE DECIDED AT VITALITY BIG HALF
Reigning Vitality Big Half elite wheelchair champion David Weir (coach: Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy) and 2019 British medallists Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans; Swansea) and Lily Partridge (self-coached; Aldershot, Farnham & District) head those going for British Half Marathon Championship titles this weekend in London.
For the elite men and women, the event doubles as the official trial for the British team that will travel to the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, on Sunday, March 29, with the top three male and female athletes earning automatic selection for the championship.
Griffiths leads the contenders in the men’s field having narrowly missed out on a spot on the overall podium in 2019, clocking 63:17 for fourth position overall, but did come away with the British Championship silver medal as the second Brit home, behind winner Sir Mo Farah.
Chris Thompson (self; AFD), the bronze medallist from last year’s event, arrives as the fastest British man on paper with a 61:00 personal best set at the Great North Run in 2012, while the new British 5k record holder Nick Goolab (Craig Winrow; Belgrave) takes on the second half-marathon of his career, following on from a 64:34 showing in Bath last year.
Other notable names in the field include British Under-23 half marathon record holder Jake Smith (James Thie; Cardiff), Olympian Ross Millington (Steve Vernon; Stockport) and 2017 British Marathon champion, Josh Griffiths (Swansea), all will be expected to challenge.
On an international front, triple Olympic Games, five-time World Champion and world 5000m & 10,000m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) provides the biggest challenge as he comes in search of a debut victory, with 2019 Chicago and Boston Marathon winner Lawrence Cherono (KEN) also expected to be in the hunt.
In the senior women’s field, Hayley Carruthers (Daniel Robinson; Birchfield) arrives as one of the firm favourites following on from her fourth place finish at this event in 2019, but it is Lily Partridge (self-coached; AFD) who looks for her first Big Half title, having finished as runner-up in 2018.
Partridge, who sits fifth in the British rankings for 2020, will hope to follow up her third place finish in the Seville Half Marathon in January, where she clocked 71:31. And will have one eye on bettering the course record of 70:29, set by Charlotte Purdue in 2018.
IAU 50km World Championship team gold medallist from 2019, Dani Nimmock (Pauline Ash; City of Norwich) will look to continue her progression, while fresh from setting a 20-second PB in Barcelona a fortnight ago, Clara Evans (Cardiff) will look to stake her claim for a strong finish.
Eleanor Davis (Helen Clitheroe; Preston), Stephanie Davis (Philip Kissi; Clapham Chasers), Rebecca Murray (Craig Winrow; Bedford & County), Jenny Spink (Bristol & West) and Samantha Harrison (Vince Wilson; Notts) complete the elite women’s line-up.
From a para perspective, Weir claimed his maiden victory on the course last year and will go in search of a third successive British title in Sunday’s event looking to better his own course record of 51:12, set last year.
Silver and bronze medallists from 2019, Simon Lawson (Ian Thompson; Carlisle Tri) and JohnBoy Smith (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy) will once again challenge Weir for the crown, with reigning Paralympic Games T53 100m champion Brent Lakatos (CAN) returning to the event for the first time since 2018, where he finished fourth.
British champion Mel Nicholls (Job King; Coventry) will hope that she can top the podium this year following her second place finish in last year’s event, with Westminster Mile and Vitality 10000 champion Shelly Woods (Pete Wyman; Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde) looking to add the half-marathon crown to her name.
18-year-old Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy), who took bronze last year and British Championship silver, will hope to stake her claim for top spot and improve on her 63:37 PB set in Manchester in 2018.
Further para-athlete representation comes in the form of Derek Rae (Ron Morrison; Fife AC), who was the first T46 athlete home in 69:35 in 2019 and he will look to step up his preparation for Tokyo 2020 in his first race of the year.
The action gets underway at 9am on Sunday morning and is live on the BBC Red Button from 8:45am.