The runner’s annual calendar starts getting serious with the first major half marathon of the year: The Grand Brighton Half Marathon, organised by the Sussex Beacon, takes place on Sunday 23rd February. This year sees the event celebrate its 30th anniversary with its largest field yet, over 12,500 runners, compared to the original 200 that started in the inaugural race.

Beginners, seasoned runners and elite athletes alike, will gather nervously at the start line on Madeira Drive, desperate for the start gun to be fired, so they can warm those limbs and run off those nerves (hopefully not pulling both hamstrings and their groin in the process). The race starts at 9:30am, with a dedicated start time of 9:27am for the wheelchair race, as well as a host of other events taking place, including the Sussex Beacon Relay, and the Brighton Half Youth Races started by Caroline Lucas MP, at 9:00am at Hove Lawns.

Start of the 2019 Half Marathon
Start of the 2019 Half Marathon

And whilst the elite athletes nip round in improbably quick times (the course record is a ridiculously fast 1:04:53 – officially quicker than getting through the A27’s traffic lights at Worthing), the majority of runners (speaking from experience) huff and puff their way round the course with patched up knees and distant thoughts about where the nearest defibrillator is. And for these runners, every single cheer, whoop and holler that the spectacular crowds always so generously provide, are greatly appreciated. Every encouraging call of a runner’s name gives them an almost measurable amount of extra energy in their legs. So, if you’re not doing anything that day, warm up your vocal cords, find a spot on the course, and lend them your support. And if you see someone with their name on their shirt, give them a yell, you may just be helping them reach their PB.

In return for such wonderful support, the crowd are royally entertained, not just by the impressive feats of the competitors giving it their all, but by numerous events taking place around the course, as it wends its way through the city, past numerous iconic landmarks. Singers and drumming bands, at miles 2, 6, 8 and 10, will help lift the runners’ spirits when they need it, as well as keeping the atmosphere fizzing. There will also be a cavalcade of Penny Farthings as part of the 30th year celebrations, winners from the past 30 years, and special race ambassadors including Brighton’s own Norman Cook and Olympic Gold Medallist Sally Gunnell.

The day is a huge event not just in the sporting calendar, but also in the fundraising calendar, with phenomenal causes such as local organisations The Sussex Beacon and Chestnut Tree House, and national charities Macmillan and Alzheimer’s Society. Many runners aren’t just giving up their time and effort (think of all those hours spent training), but are also selflessly raising large sums of money for a whole range of worthy causes. if you’re inspired by their efforts, there are many ways to donate to the any of charities represented. Or if you’re really inspired, why not dust off those old trainers at the back of the cupboard, and start training up for next year…

For more information about the race, key timings, where best to watch it from, and the accompanying events, please visit The Grand Brighton Half Marathon website.