Mizuno Reading Half Marathon

Mizuno Reading Half MarathonWinchester’s Chris Powner, who stepped up to the half marathon distance in style when clocking an impressive 64:45 on his debut in Bath on 11 March, will start the Mizuno Reading Half Marathon as favourite to take the top Brit position in an international field on Sunday 1 April.

Dave Webb (coach: Bud Baldaro), first Brit home in the 2011 edition of the event and sixth overall behind a quintet of Kenyans, has withdrawn after changing his competition plans. The Leeds City athlete finished 15th in the IAAF World Athletics Championships marathon in Daegu last summer in 2:15:48, an Olympic Marathon ‘A’ standard performance.

For Powner, however, there’s no marathon on the cards for 2012 but he hopes to use the race to build his experience over the 13.1 mile distance: “Having run in Bath a few weeks ago I’m basically using Reading to gain more experience and it should also give me good strength for the track season,” says the 29-year-old who has also clocked a 10k PB of 29:13 in 2012. “At this stage I’m not sure I can go quicker, but I do hope I can consolidate my performance in Bath and show that it wasn’t just a one off.”

The Mizuno Reading Half Marathon, now in its 29th year, kicks off the second runbritain Grand Prix - which enjoys a Brits-only prize fund totalling £55,000 across five events - over a fast and popular course which remains unchanged.

The event, which has an impressive finish on front of large crowds inside Reading Football Club’s Madejski Stadium, is one of the UK’s fastest half marathons.

Powner will go up against fellow Brits including Jon Pepper (Bud Baldaro), 11th in Reading 12 months ago and fourth overall in the Grand Prix series, and Andy Norman, the only British athlete in the elite field alongside Powner with a PB under 65 minutes.

The race starts in Green Park, 250m from the Madejski Stadium, taking runners along the old route to Reading University before going through the city centre, over the river Kennet, past The Oracle shopping complex, under Abbey Gate, out to Prospect Park and back into town.

Leading British women in this year’s field are Justina Heslop of Clapham Chasers, sixth woman overall in this event last year, and Bristol & West’s Lucy MacAlister, who finished second and seventh respectively in the overall runbritain Grand Prix in 2011.

Emily Wicks (Keith Donkin), third in the Series in 2011 and ninth in Reading 12 months ago, is also one to watch as she continues her welcome return to competitive action following ill health in December.

The 18,000 Mizuno Reading Half Marathon race places were snapped up by beginning of January, proving the continuous popularity of the race, and competitors raise £250,000 every year for the official race charities, which for 2012 include CLIC Sargent and the Royal Berks Charity.

Footage from the Mizuno Reading Half Marathon will be available on runbritain TV as soon as possible in the days following the race, while a report of the race will be posted on the runbritain website along with updates on the runbritain Grand Prix overall standings.  

Go to www.readinghalfmarathon.com for further details on the event and www.runbritain.com for more on the 2012 runbritain Grand Prix.