This year’s Birmingham International Marathon has been cancelled, with organisers blaming the city’s extensive roadworks for preventing them from designing an ‘iconic course’.
The Great Run Company launched the first full marathon in the city only last year, alongside the existing Birmingham half marathon.
However, the company’s David Hart told Birmingham Live that last year’s runners hadn’t enjoyed the course, in part because of the impact of major roadworks and construction in the city. Efforts to find a better route for 2018 had foundered, he said.
“We just couldn’t put together a course to show off the best of the city,” he said. “We had very robust feedback from last year’s runners that it simply hadn’t been an iconic course that reflected the very best of the city.”
Following talks with Birmingham City Council, the company took the decision on Thursday to suspend entries to the 2018 marathon.
In a statement, the company said: “Ongoing redevelopment and roadworks at key areas in the city centre have restricted options for a new and improved route to make it the brilliant running experience the Great Run Company and Birmingham City Council are striving to deliver.
”Everyone who has already entered would be given full refunds and discounted entry to the half marathon, which will go ahead as planned.
Mr Hart said: “It’s fully our ambition to hold a full marathon in the future, but we just couldn’t get the course together this year. The Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon is still taking place on Sunday, 14 October, and moving back to its popular morning start time.”
The Great Run Company was founded by legendary Olympic athlete Brendan Foster, who chaired Birmingham’s successful bid for the Commonwealth Games.
Games organisers had hinted that the Commonwealth Marathon in 2022 would be run alongside the Birmingham Marathon, allowing amateur runners to effectively participate in a global sporting event.
Paul Foster, Chief Executive Officer of The Great Run Company, said: “We apologise to those who have already entered the event. It’s a difficult, but sensible decision. Rather than compromise the event, it’s better to go back to the drawing board.
“Our ambition is to create an iconic marathon route showcasing the best of the city and we hope to be able to announce a new date and improved route later in the year.
“We have listened to the feedback from participants in 2017 and feel that it is best to work with our partners in the city to improve the running experience, and create a marathon that Birmingham can be truly proud of in the build-up to 2022.”
Coun Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We could carry on with the route established last year, but it is much more important to look at this from a long-term perspective.
“We’ve proven we can stage a marathon in the city and that there is a clear desire from runners for such an event – but it is better that we take stock, wait for the completion of some of the infrastructure projects making this city an even greater place to be and then re-route the marathon so it showcases our ever-transforming city in the best light possible.”
“I have every sympathy with those who were looking forward to running the marathon here again, and hope they take up the opportunity of entering the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon instead.”