Spectacular weekend of running in London
26 May 2016, 3:20 p.m.
Thousands of people are preparing for a spectacular weekend of running across two days in central London.
The Vitality Westminster Mile on Sunday 29 May and the Vitality London 10,000 on bank holiday Monday have become two of the most popular events on the running calendar.
This is the first year the events have taken place under the sponsorship of Vitality, and they promise to be bigger, better and more colourful than ever.
The weekend will begin with the Vitality Westminster Mile on Sunday, which starts on The Mall and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace.
In total there will be 35 races throughout the day for runners of all ages and abilities, including family runs, school races, age group, wheelchair and elite competitions.
The highlight promises to be David Weir’s bid to break the three-minute mile barrier. He came within three seconds last year when he clocked a new world record of 3:03.
This year Weir, who will be helped by his old rival Ernst van Dyk (South Africa), believes he can create history.
He said: “I now know the course so well and we’ve worked out the best way to attack the record. I would love to be the first man under three minutes for the mile.”
Another major attraction of the Vitality Westminster Mile will be to watch 90 Great British Olympians take part in the Olympians Mile.
Run for the first time last year, the event proved a big hit and has attracted another illustrious start list.
Three Olympic gold medal winners are running: Richard Leman and Steve Batchelor, who were part of the victorious 1988 hockey squad at the Seoul Olympic Games and Jane Holderness-Roddam, who was part of the triumphant equestrian team from the 1968 Mexico Games.
Britain’s ice queen Shelley Rudman will run alongside husband Kristan Bromley. Shelley took a silver medal in the skeleton at the 2006 Winter Olympics while Kristan competed in four Winter Games in the same event.
For the first time this year, there will be a mascot race with the likes of QPR and Middlesex Cricket Club sending their cuddly cheerleaders and hundreds of local schoolchildren will line up for the Westminster Schools race.
In the elite mile races, Adam Clarke returns to defend his title while the women’s race is wide open with Faye Fullerton one of the favourites.
Away from the running, there will be the Vitality Wellness Festival in Green Park with free fun and entertainment for all ages. There will be a sports area with freestyle football, sprint track athletics and BMX bikes. Also in the park will be inflatable games, music on the bandstand, a kids’ zone, exercise classes including yoga and Pilates in the Vitality Studio and a huge range of giveaways – and it’s all free.
The next day is the Vitality London 10,000, Britain’s most iconic 10km race, which starts on The Mall and takes in some of London’s most famous landmarks before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.
At the head of the race, which incorporates the British 10k Road Race Championships, will be Andy Vernon who will be going for his third successive victory in this event.
Vernon will face some stiff competition, however, from the in-form Andrew Butchart who ran a Scottish record for the 5,000m (13:13:30) last weekend and has put himself in a strong position to win a place on the Great Britain team for the Rio Olympic Games.
In the women’s race, a late withdrawal from Jo Pavey means she won’t be defending the title she won last year. Pavey has been suffering from a chest infection in recent weeks and struggled in the British 10,000m trials for Rio on the track last weekend.
The 42-year-old is trying to make her fifth Olympics and has decided to pull out of the Vitality London 10,000 in order to give herself the best chance of making the Great Britain team for the 5,000m.
Charlotte Purdue, who was the third British woman home in April’s London Marathon, will be hoping to continue her good form and fill the void left by Pavey, while Katrina Wootton will be looking to repeat her win from 2013.
Fresh from their mile race a day earlier, David Weir and Ernst van Dyk will be back in action in the first elite wheelchair race to be staged as part of the event.
Also doubling up are Rafa Botello-Jiminez, Justin Levene, Jabri Knight, Nikki Emmerson and Martyna Snopek.
To keep the runners motivated, there will be 10 bands playing along the course and the second day of the free Vitality Wellness Festival in Green Park.