Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, blogs on the entry application system for the Birmingham International Marathon 2017, which opens later today…
It’s been a hectic few days since we announced Birmingham’s intention to submit a bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026.
I am delighted by the early momentum we are building. My phone has been ringing off the hook with messages of support and offers of help to ensure we transform our vision into a reality.
During media interviews I and other supporters of the bid have all made every effort to underline the legacy of the games to the city (better transport, housing, job creation and a local economic boost of £390m based on the Glasgow 2014 experience).
But what we can’t do is lose focus of the point that brought us to this stage. This is all about hosting a festival of world-class sport in Birmingham – a city with a track record that is second to none.
Today (October 4), marks the opening of the entry application system for the Birmingham International Marathon 2017, set to take place on the city’s streets on October 15 next year.
This is the natural progression for the city, which established its half marathon back in 2008. I’m sure that over time the new event will become just as much of a success as the shorter one has been.
In fact, it is not very well known, but Birmingham was the pioneer city when it comes to mass-participation running events in the UK. Back in 1980, a full year before both the London Marathon and Great North Run, the city was home to a marathon of its own!
But it’s not just running that we excel at. The list of events we‘ve hosted in recent times is wide and varied.
International cricket at Edgbaston, the Aegon Classic tennis championships at the Edgbaston Priory Club, matches in the Rugby Union World Cup at Villa Park, the All-England Open Badminton Championships at the Barclaycard Arena, the UCI BMX championships and Diamond League Athletics at the Alexander Stadium to name but a few.
And this is before considering facilities within the wider West Midlands region, some of which will have an integral part to play in any Commonwealths bid.
Coupled with the fantastic infrastructure we have, our success in hosting and staging events means we really are at the head of the pack when it comes to credentials for staging the Commonwealth Games in 2026.
Work is underway on the feasibility study, needed to work out what would be needed as part of any formal bid. We expect that to be ready in the new year.
In the meantime, I would urge everyone to back the bid for Birmingham as the benefits we will accrue as a city and a wider region are huge.
To register an interest in taking park in the Birmingham International Marathon 2017, visit: http://www.greatrun.org/birmingham-international-marathon