Will Vitality Big Half live up to its name?
Haneta Rondonuwu (pictured above) thinks so! The Vitality Big Half is the grand title of London's community half marathon starting at 9am on Sunday 10 March on Tower Bridge but will the race live up to the promise of its title? runABC South takes a look at the event as it enters a second year with a potential 15,000 starters – now that really is big!
The inaugural Vitality Big Half on 4 March 2018 saw 12,000 tame the 'Beast from the East' on a weekend when much of the race programme was wiped out by the extreme weather event. The sheltered streets of the capital helped Mo Farah (61:40) and Charlotte Purdue (70:29) to claim British Championship titles in good times against world class opposition.
Both champions are expected to return this year and will face even tougher fields. Sir Mo's opponents include two Virgin Money London Marathon winners – former world record holder Wilson Kipsang and 2017 London winner, Daniel Wanjuri, who Farah just outsprinted to claim Vitality Big Half victory last year.
Vitality Big Half will again carry British Half Marathon Championship status this year and a talented domestic field should include Southern athletes of the calibre of Aldershot's Andy Vernon, Matt Sharp (Team Spy) from Hampshire and Dewi Griffiths of Swansea.
The women's race features the top three from last year: Charlotte Purdue and Lily Partridge for Aldershot and Charlotte Arter from Cardiff. However, Steph Twell (Aldershot) and Tracy Barlow (Thames Valley Harriers) will also be determined to have a big say in the outcome.
The Vitality Big Half programme includes the Vitality Little Half – a 2.4-mile run which finishes at Cutty Sark – and Vitality Big Mile, a free to enter family-friendly run around Greenwich Park. Another option is the New Balance Big Relay, which enables teams of four to take on Vitality Big Half, running 13.1 miles through Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich to finish at the Cutty Sark.
If that's not a big enough day out for you the organisers, London Marathon Events Ltd, have also laid on the Vitality Big Festival to celebrate the best food, music, sport and entertainment that London can offer.
Full details at the Vitality Big Half website
Image of Haneta Rondonuwu (2:22:51 in 2018) courtesy Vitality Big Half