And they’re off! Brighton Half Marathon returns to city

Runners pass the Royal Pavilion (Photograph: Will Corder) SUS-170214-110706001
Runners pass the Royal Pavilion (Photograph: Will Corder) SUS-170214-110706001

It’s that time of the year again, as runners limber up for the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon set to take place next Sunday (February 26).

Around 13,000 runners have signed up to run this year, from experienced half marathoners chasing a personal best to charity runners.

Brighton Half finishers at last year's race SUS-170214-112014001

Brighton Half finishers at last year's race SUS-170214-112014001

The race, run by Brighton-based HIV charity Sussex Beacon, is in its 27th year, and has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the early 1990s as small event involving about 200 runners from local athletic clubs.

This year, international DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, will be sounding the starting klaxon to get the race underway at 9am, before joining the race himself.

He said: “As a keen runner, Brighton local and seasoned Brighton Half Marathoner, I’m hugely looking forward to starting the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon 2017. The race is renowned for its buzzing atmosphere and each and every year the crowd support throughout the route is just fantastic. The race really brings the city together. It’s great to see so many people – especially those new to running and those running for charities – taking on the challenge of 13.1 miles.”

The elite field includes local and national runners, including Paul Martelletti, who has won the men’s race for the past four consecutive years and holds the course record of 64:53.

Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim at the 2016 race SUS-170214-111915001

Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim at the 2016 race SUS-170214-111915001

Paul was the elite male winner in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and is back to defend his title for 2017. In 2016 Paul finished in 65.48 – the fastest time in the history of the race to date.

2014 winner Sarah Hill – who came second in 2015 and 2016 – returns to run too.

Starting on Madeira Drive, between Brighton Pier and Brighton Marina, the race heads north past the grandeur of the Royal Pavilion towards the majesty of St Peter’s Church. Turning at Gloucester Place, runners head south back down Grand Parade to the Old Steine before turning left onto Marine Parade.

The race then heads out on the road towards Ovingdean, past the regal Royal and Lewes Crescent architecture. Continuing on Marine Drive and the bracing cliff tops, the race will head towards the Blind Veterans UK centre, where a sharp turn on the road before the Greenways Roundabout will bring you back west towards Brighton, enjoying wonderful cliff top and panoramic city views. Picking up pace runners then pass the iconic blue railings on Marine Parade, past Brighton Pier and the West Pier on the horizon.

The start line of the Brighton Half Marathon (Photograph: Will Corder) SUS-170214-111928001

The start line of the Brighton Half Marathon (Photograph: Will Corder) SUS-170214-111928001

Once past the two piers runners will head into Hove along the Kings Road with the majestic cream regency architecture on the right and the sea on the left. Past the King Alfred Leisure Centre, runners then head to Hove Lagoon before turning left onto the seafront. A great two mile run past the colourful beach huts of Hove brings runners back to the Peace Statue, where the race rejoins the road for the last dash past cheering crowds to the finish on Madeira Drive.

As well as the main event, a youth race will also be held, with 450 seven to 17-year-olds taking to the course to run a mile.

There will also be The Sussex Beacon Corporate Relay, when local businesses will battle it out to become champions. And new for 2017 is The Sussex Beacon Wheelchair race, when six wheelchair racers will race the half marathon distance of 13.1 miles.

The race raises funds for organiser and headline charity The Sussex Beacon, as well as children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House, homeless charity Shelter, Macmillan cancer support and many more.

Paul Martelletti - last year's winner SUS-170214-111849001

Paul Martelletti - last year's winner SUS-170214-111849001

For more on the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon, visit: brightonhalfmarathon.com

Key timings

6.30am - Park and Ride opens

7am - Help Desk opens

8.15am - Road closures start

8.30am - Runners proceed to start pens

8.57am - Wheelchair race starts

9am - Official starter Norman Cook will sound the start horn for main race

9.20am - Start of Youth Races

2pm - Race village closes

Best place to watch

By the Grand Hotel, which is holding a community stage when a host of live bands and acts will perform during the race

Hove Lawns, where spectators can watch the runners going past twice

Marine Drive going up to Ovingdean (the only incline/hill in the race)

Road closures

The following roads will be closed (timings are approximations only):

4am to 6pm – Madeira Drive

8.15am to 10am – Old Steine, Marlborough Place, Gloucester Place, Grand Parade, Pavilion Parade

8.15am to 11.15am - Marine Parade, Marine Drive

8.15am to 1pm – Kings Road to West Street (Westbound & Eastbound lanes)

9.15am to 1pm – Kings Road, Kingsway (Westbound lane only)

Information for runners

Massage: Runners can get pre and post-race massage from our physio partner, Sundial clinics. This is at the massage marquee, close to Yellowave Café on the beach.

Taping: For any runners with last-minute niggles, RockTape will be providing sports taping service. This is by the massage marquee, close to Yellowave Café on the beach.

Helpdesk: The help desk is open Saturday 2pm-4pm, and on race day from 7am. 2017 merchandise will also be available to buy.

Drinks stations: These will be at miles two, six and nine where water is available. Lucozade Sport will be available at miles six and nine and the finish line.

Park & Ride: For runners who have booked the Park and Ride facility, this is at the American Express Community Stadium (‘The Amex’) on Village Way, Brighton, BN1 9BL.The car park opens from 6.30am and buses travel straight into the race village.

Pacers: Runners keen to achieve a certain target time for the race can use the race pacers. There will be pacers for sub 2:30, sub 2:15, sub 2 hour, sub 1:45 and sub 1:30 hours.