Entries now open for 25th Bristol Half Marathon
THIS September sees the 25th anniversary of the Bristol Half Marathon – and from this morning you can enter, and join the thousands of runners the event attracts to the city.
The race was first held in 1989 when 1,000 runners started at Clifton Down and raced down the hill, around Ashton Court before a gruelling climb back took them over the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Nowadays the showpiece event, staged around the city centre and Harbourside, attracts more than 16,000 entrants from all over the world including elite athletes from Hong Kong, Kenya and the USA.
This year's race takes place on Sunday, September 15.
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The winner of the 1989 event was Steve Brace who completed the course in 68 minutes and 36 seconds.
The 52-year-old from Bridgend helped launched this year's event at College Green yesterday.
He said: "I didn't know what to expect to be honest but I had a cracking battle with a Westbury Harriers athlete called Declan McGrath.
"Declan had good local knowledge and it was a cracking race but I managed to pip him on the line."
Mr Brace had to stop running after his knees gave in but not before representing the UK in the men's marathon at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.
He added: "I last ran the Bristol Half Marathon three years ago with my wife and although we crossed the line together deliberately, the timings in the paper made her a few seconds quicker because of the chip system!
"I think people enjoy racing in Bristol now because it is a flat fast course and a good day out."
Another race veteran is race technical director Ray Jaeckels.
He has helped to organise the half marathon since it was first run in 1989 and gets up at 3am on race day to make sure road closures are taking place and barriers are going up.
Due to his commitments on race day Mr Jaeckels has never actually been able to take part.
"In my fitter days I used to go out at lunch time and run the course pretty much every day close to the race to make sure nobody had started roadworks on the route or anything like that," Mr Jaeckels said.
"The race has got steadily better but really took off in 2001 when we were awarded the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (in which Paula Radcliffe and Haile Gebrselassie competed) and started to attract elite athletes from all over the world. Since then we have gone from strength to strength."
Georgette Van Hoof, Bristol City Council's race director, added: "I think it's incredible that this race has been going 25 years and the main credit has to go to people like Ray Jaeckels and race transport director Steve Weaver – it just could not go ahead without guys like that.
"Credit must also go to the running clubs in Bristol such as Bristol & West, Westbury Harriers and Great Western Running Club who provide so many volunteers to help."
This year the race's main sponsors are Children's Hospice South West, WellChild, Coco and Clic Sargent.
The council provides training sessions. The first of five takes place on Saturday, March 2, and runners of all abilities are welcome to take part.
Sign up at www.runbristol.com.
If you're a complete beginner or keen to improve your time ThisisBristol has got training tips and race day advice from two of the most experienced runners in the business: Keith Brackstone, the running coach for the University of Bristol; and Olympian Steve Brace, who not only won the very first Bristol Half Marathon 25 years ago but also won the Berlin and Paris marathons and took part in the Olympic marathon in 1992 and 1996.
In this video they will talk you through training schedules, keeping motivated and insider tips to improve your race time.