Next year’s World Half Marathon in Birmingham could take place alongside a fun event for thousands of amateur racers, triggering the West Midlands’ own version of Newcastle’s popular Great North Run.
City council leaders want to repeat last Sunday’s highly successful half marathon on the same day that 200 of the world’s best runners are due to contest a world series race through the city’s streets.
The event would attract live television coverage and help enhance Birmingham’s image as a powerhouse in the world of athletics.
It was announced in April that Birmingham had been chosen to stage the prestigious IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in October 2009.
Last week’s half marathon, the first to be staged in the city, attracted 9,000 runners with as many as 50,000 spectators lining the route.
Officials from the IAAF are due to meet with the council next month to discuss how the two races might be staged together.
If agreement can be reached, contestants in the world series event would start first to be followed by runners in the Birmingham half marathon.
A council spokeswoman said: “We will be talking about whether it is viable to combine the two and the possible route that the runners might follow.”
The World Half Marathon will be the most significant athletics event to be staged in Britain before the London 2012 Olympic Games. Previous host cities have included Rio, New Delhi and Brussels.
The event has been staged in Britain twice previously, with the inaugural event being held in Newcastle in 1992.
Winners of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships have included Paula Radcliffe, who has won the women’s race three times, Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie and Scottish running legend Liz McColgan.
City council leader Mike Whitby described Sunday’s race as a tremendous success that would enhance the reputation of Birmingham.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) added: “We are looking at 15,000 runners next year, alongside the World Half Marathon, underpinning Birmingham’s reputation as a city that has hosted more European and international athletics events over the past 10 years than anywhere else.”
Ray Hassall, cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said he was delighted with the IAAF’s decision to choose Birmingham.
Coun Hassall (Lib Dem Perry Barr) added: “This event will raise the profile of Birmingham on an international level and up to 50 countries could send athletes to participate, which will lead to global television coverage for the city and there will also be a significant economic impact with hundreds of athletes, coaches and officials staying in the city for several days.
“We are looking forward to working alongside UK Athletics once again and to staging an event of which the city and the country can be proud.”
Ed Warner, Chairman of UK Athletics, said:: “We are delighted to be partnering Birmingham City Council once again to host this prestigious event. Everyone at UK Athletics is looking forward to putting on another top class sporting spectacle in Birmingham and welcoming some of the world’s best runners.”