The Vitality Big Half returns on Sunday [10 March] bringing a festival of running and culture to the heart of London in a celebration of the rich and wonderful diversity of the capital city.
Now in its second year, the event features three running events with a distance for everyone – including the flagship half marathon, The Vitality Big Half – plus The Vitality Big Festival which takes place in Greenwich Park and will feature fun for all the family including live music, games and cooking demonstrations.
The Vitality Big Half will see more than 14,000 runners start north of the River Thames close to Tower Bridge at 09:00, head east towards Canary Wharf, loop back and cross Tower Bridge before heading to a finish at the historic Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
Leading the entrants is Sir Mo Farah who will be looking to defend the title he won last year. He will face a stern test from a pair of Kenyans who are both former London Marathon winners, Daniel Wanjiru and Wilson Kipsang.
In the women’s race, defending champion Charlotte Purdue returns while Paralympic hero David Weir is the star name in the elite wheelchair races.
Behind the elite competitors will be the masses including more than 4,000 community runners – participants from the four London boroughs the event passes through, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich.
The aim of The Vitality Big Half is to create an event that truly reflects the boroughs and neighbourhoods it passes through and to encourage more people, from all backgrounds, to take up running. To achieve this, community groups from the four boroughs of the race were able to enter runners for just £10 per participant.
Among this group of runners are community champions of The Vitality Big Half’s #MovedbyLondon campaign. Runners who are trying to change the perception of running in their communities.
Jarnail Singh is one of the community champions. He ran The Vitality Big Half last year which was his first experience of mass-participation running.
He said: “Before The Vitality Big Half I was thinking it’s not achievable; how can I do it when I’ve never run more than 11 or 12km? But sometimes you need to trust yourself and you need to do something you’ve never done before.”
Within The Vitality Big Half is the The New Balance Big Relay where teams of four split the 13.1mile course between them.
The Little Half is the second running event being held on the day. It is a 2.4-mile run that starts at 12:45 in Southwark Park and joins the final miles of The Vitality Big Half to finish at the Cutty Sark. More than 1,770 people have signed up to run the event which is open to all ages.
The third running event is The Vitality Big Mile which will take place inside Greenwich Park and finish in The Vitality Big Festival. There is a running wave which starts at 12:30 and a walking/jogging wave that gets under way at 13:00.
The free Vitality Big Festival will keep runners, spectators, residents and visitors to Greenwich entertained throughout the day from 10:00-16:00 with a wide-range of entertainment.
The highlight promises to be on The Vitality Big Stage which will, in partnership with BBC Introducing, showcase a selection of the hottest up and coming acts and local community performers.
Among the performers, which have been sourced from across London, are Jermain Jackman, the 2014 winner of The Voice. For the full line-up click here.
Also at The Big Festival is a kitchen theatre where there will be sustainable cooking masterclasses from Masterchef finalist Steve Kielty, a health and wellbeing area, a children’s garden maze and helter-skelter which will give wonderful views of the festival and Greenwich Park.
The Vitality Big Half is live on the BBC Red Button from 08:45 to 12:20 on Sunday.