First Grand Prix race this Sunday

Reading Half

The Vitality Reading Half Marathon is this year's Grand Prix opener and, once again, boasts a top quality field in both men's and women's races.

In 2014, this race was the the fastest half marathon in the UK, with 40 male athletes breaking 70 minutes and 20 female athletes under 80 minutes.
This year, the race organisers are confidently targeting 50 male athletes to go sub 70 mins and 25 females to go sub 80 mins as this event continues to invest heavily in the quality of the field. The race will also incorporate the English Championships for the half marathon.
The men's race sees last year's second and third placers, Nick Torry (handicap -4.5)  and Phil Wicks (handicap -4.6) joined by several in-form contenders including John Beattie (handicap -4.8) who has been performing well over the shorter road distances and cross country and Derek Hawkins (handicap -4.9). Both John and Derek ran close to 14 minutes for 5k at the recent Armagh International Road Race with 14:04 and 14:07 respectively. Also lining up will be Anthony Ford (handicap -3.3), Toby Lambert (handicap -3.9), who has recenly been running close to 30 minutes for 10k, Paul Marttelletti (handicap -5.3) who won both the Wokingham and Watford Half Marathons last month, Ben Livesey (handicap -3.9), Gary Murray (handicap -4.0) and Chris Powner (handicap -2.6). All of the above are sub 65 minute runners.
The women's race also promises top drawer performances and threatens to out-perform the men's event as last year's first and second runners, Susan Partridge (handicap 0.7) and Aly Dixon (handicap -0.6) will once again line up. Aly will be looking to go one better this year and having won the Trafford 10k last weekend could well be the one to beat although she will be challenged by National XC Winner, Lily Partridge (handicap -0.9), Jess Coulson.(handicap 0.2), Helen Clitheroe (handicap -0.7), Louise Damen (handicap 1.0) and last year's Grand Prix overall winner, Emma Stepto (handicap -0.7).
Once again,this race offers the biggest prize pot in UK road racing with a guaranteed prize fund of £30,000 that will go to British athletes with further, achievable monetary rewards for fast times.

Prize money has been set for the top three men and women as well as the top 10 British men and women and an athlete can take both prizes if they qualify. In addition, prize money will go to the top British Under 23s, veterans and wheelchair athletes. Financial bonuses will be rewarded to men who run the course in under 65 minutes and women who run faster than 73 minutes.

Without doubt, this will be an outstanding event as the elite runners will be joined by thousands of club runners and charity runners at the event on Sunday morning that takes places on a flatter and faster course than ever before. Setting off around the stunning parkland of Green Park the route takes in the highlights of the town centre of Reading where there is expected to be huge crowd support whilst also passing through the beautiful grounds of the University campus. The final straight takes the runners into the magnificent Madejski Stadium to experience a finish like no other.

The runbritain Grand Prix rewards points for all runners that finish in the top 250 men and women with 250 points for a win and 1 point for 250th place. Additional bonus points starting at 65 minutes and 71 minutes are available for men and women respectively.  Up to the four best scores from the six available races count at the end of the series.

Can you get on the score board in this first race of the Grand Prix?