The streets of Bath were filled with 12,700 runners and tens of thousands of spectators as the Vitality Bath Half celebrated its 35th birthday in record-breaking fashion.
From first-time runners raising money for charity to elite athletes aiming for a personal best on the fast and flat course, the city was brimming with expectation and excitement as the big race got under way.
A fine and sunny morning with a temperature of 9C provided perfect running conditions for what is one of the most popular road racing events in the UK. The two-lap 13.1 mile course starts and finishes in Great Pulteney Street and straddles both sides of the River Avon, which makes it a great event for spectators and supporters who were cheering on the runners whilst enjoying the carnival atmosphere around the course.
The men’s title was claimed by Robert Mbithi of Run-Fast, who completed the 13.1 mile course in a time of 1hr 01min 45secs in an exceptionally brave display of front-running, smashing the 62-minute mark and breaking Edwin Kiptoo’s previous course record of 1hr 02mins 01sec set in 2012. Brit Jonny Hay of Aldershot, Farnham & District AC claimed second place in 1hr 04mins 53secs in a thrilling sprint finish to beat Kenyan runner Gideon Kimosop into third place by two seconds.
Lenah Jerotich of Run-Fast dominated the women’s field and won the title after crossing the finish line in a time of 1hr 12mins 24secs. Tracy Barlow of Thames Valley Harriers secured second place in 1hr 14mins 25secs, ahead of Hayley Munn of Winchester & District AC who finished in 1hr 16mins 46secs.
Marin Rees of Les Croupiers RC ran the fastest ever half marathon for a 63-year-old and claimed the world record in the Vet Men 60+ age category after completing the clocking 1hr 13mins 50secs.
Some well-known faces could be spotted in the running crowd and celebrity runners included Russell Howard, Will Thorp, Rob Deering, Paul Tonkinson, Greg James, Lewis Moody, Sophie Raworth, Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Chrissie Wellington OBE.
The Family Fun Run saw 1,200 runners of all ages and abilities set off on the ¾ mile course in aid of Bath Rugby Foundation. Fourteen-year-old Max Davis managed to defend his title after crossing the finish line of the Family Fun Run in a time of 4mins 36secs.
The full results are available on the website http://bathhalf.co.uk/results/
Race director Andrew Taylor from Running High Events said: “We are absolutely delighted with the turnout for this year’s event, which has been another fantastic year for the Vitality Bath Half Marathon with some record-breaking performances including a new men’s course record. This year has seen our highest number of official charities, and we are hoping to have raised well over our previous £2.1 million record in fundraising which is a magnificent achievement.
“Congratulations to the winners, and to every single runner who crossed the finish line.
“We would like the thank the runners for choosing to run in Bath, the spectators for their immense support, and of course the 850 local volunteers, our contractors and partners who worked so hard to make the event flow so seamlessly. A big thank you also goes to all the bands who gave their time for free to support the event, and to all the venues who generously donated use of their premises.
“It has been another special and inspiring year for the Bath Half, and a wonderful celebration of its 35th birthday.”
Macmillan Cancer Support was the Lead Charity, and The Forever Friends Appeal, Time is Precious, Bath Rugby Foundation and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation were featured charities for the 2016 Vitality Bath Half Marathon.
The 2016 Bath Half Marathon was the last race to use the current course. From 2017 onwards, redevelopment of the Green Park area will cause the road to be diverted behind the bus station, making it the first adjustment to the route since 2006.