8th March 2019
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS FARAH AND PURDUE TO HEADLINE VITALITY BIG HALF
Defending Vitality Big Half champions Sir Mo Farah (coach: Gary Lough; club: Newham & Essex Beagles) and Charlotte Purdue (Nic Bideau; Aldershot, Farnham & District) will hit the streets once again on Sunday.
The Big Half for the second consecutive year will serve as the British Half Marathon Championships and some of the best British and international distance runners will hit the streets of the capital on Sunday.
The senior men’s field is undoubtedly headlined by European marathon record holder Farah, who continues to step up his preparation for next month’s London Marathon.
The event will be Farah’s first outing of 2019 but he will go up against a strong national and international field in his bid to retain the title.
Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans; Swansea) will lead the British charge and hope to build off the back of an eighth-place finish in the Houston Half Marathon in January, which he finished in 61:44, just 11 seconds outside his personal best set in Cardiff in 2017.
He makes his debut at the Big Half, as do Andy Vernon (self; Aldershot, Farnham & District) and Chris Thompson (Alan Storey; AFD), who is ranked fourth on the all-time British list with a 61:00 best, achieved at the Great North Run in 2012.
International competition comes in the form of Daniel Wanjiru (KEN), who finished as runner-up to Farah in last year’s Big Half and will hope to outdo the 35-year-old and snatch the title. Wanjiru won in the capital in 2017, and also won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2016, setting a new course record.
Fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, a winner on the streets of London in 2014 where he set a course record of 2:04:29, will return to the road as his training ahead of London intensifies. He, Wanjiru and Farah are the only men in the field to have run sub-60 minutes for a half marathon.
Purdue headlines the senior women’s field and arrives in a good vein of form after setting a near-45 second personal best over the distance in Japan as she finished fourth in the Marugame International Half Marathon.
Added to that, she took victory in the Australian World Cross Country trials back in January and is progressing well through the winter and will have a tough battle on her hands to beat the in-form Charlotte Arter (Chris Jones; Cardiff).
Arter heads the British rankings in 2019, having taken nearly two minutes off her previous best with a 69:40 showing in Barcelona in February, while fellow distance specialist Steph Twell (Geoff Wightman; AFD) will hope she can set a half marathon best for the first time since 2010 off the back of victory at the Armagh International.
Lily Partridge’s (self; AFD) top 10 finish at the Barcelona Half Marathon will keep her in contention and the rapidly improving Hayley Carruthers (Birchfield Harriers) will also be in the mix following a good showing in Armagh.
In the elite wheelchair field, David Weir (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy) will look to better his second-place finish last year as he looks ahead to the defence of his London Marathon title.
Weir set his personal best over the distance of 41:19 last year at the Great North Run but will hope to hold off the likes of Simon Lawson (Ian Thompson; Carlisle Tri) and JohnBoy Smith (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy), who like Weir, will contest the World Para Athletics Marathon Championships at the London Marathon next month.
Smith, who finished third in 2018’s edition of the Big Half, will be in contention to challenge his training partner and improve on his half marathon personal best of 43:34.
Live coverage of The Big Half will be on the BBC Red Button and online between 08:45-11:30 and on BBC Radio 5 Live Sport Extra between 08:55 and 11:00.
Further information about the events can be found here: https://www.thebighalf.co.uk/