After an enforced absence due to the adverse weather event known as 'The Beast from the East' in 2018, Bath Half Marathon is back on Sunday (17 March) with new title sponsor, Bishop Fleming. All general public entries were sold out five months in advance.
Astonishingly, the 2018 Bath Half still raised over £1.5 million for charity despite its first ever cancellation in its 36-year history. Since Running High Events took over race management in 2000, Bath Half has raised more than £25 million for at least 500 charities.
The current Bath Half title holders are the 2017 champions Ben Fish (Blackburn Harriers, 1:05:16) and local favourite Ruth Barnes (Avon Valley, 01:15:32) from 12,748 finishers.
This will be the 37th staging of one of Britain's biggest, fastest and most iconic road races and some 40,000 spectators are expected to gather to cheer up to 15,000 runners as they make their way round the flat and scenic course beside the River Avon. There were 540 runners inside 90 minutes in 2017 and 4,620 finished in less than 2 hours.
The course record is held by Robert Mbithi (1:01:45) set in 2016, while the women’s record has endured since 2007 and is owned by Britain's own Liz Yelling (1:09:27). It is no surprise that club runners flock to Bath every spring to register their best times on this PB potential course.
Seven local bands have been chosen to take part in a Bath tradition: the Battle of the Bands. Runners vote for their favourite on course entertainers and the winning band receives £500. Local businesses are getting behind the 2019 Bath Half Marathon Corporate Challenge with 500 places reserved for team entries.
All we need now is reasonable weather and the 2019 Bishop Fleming Bath Half Marathon is all set to break records for participation and fundraising and perhaps that women's course record is overdue revision?
There will be a full report and results in next week's runABC South news