Birmingham and Black Country Half-Marathon

Anyone else doing this? It looks really interesting and I fancy it for a goal to get me back into running after a big break (last proper run end of October last year; Great South Run) I feel like I'm back to square one and I think this would be a good half to get me refocused and training again.

I normally run roads, and paths in my local park. Is it worth training on tow paths for this? How does it work with car parking etc? What's the deal with the tunnel?


  • Sarah - its fab! I don't think you need to do anything different in training but it can be a bit muddy and the tunnel can be slippy image

  • I did this last year for the first time. Wasn't massively impressed but it was something different to the usual road race! You'll be fine doing your training on roads/park paths, it's not really much different to that. Parking, since it starts in Wolverhampton and finishes in Birmingham it's a bit tricky! I'd say park in Birmingham and get the train to Wolves for the start (the start is only a couple minutes from the train station), since it's a Saturday we don't have the usual issue with lack trains etc as we would on a Sunday, and that way you'll have your car ready to go home afterwards. Can't really comment about where in Birmingham is best to park as I don't drive.

    I wasn't terrible impressed with the organisation last year. We'd be given times to start at but it just ended up being a free for all with everyone crowding around the start trying to get going! So this meant some faster people starting way too far back and doing loads of overtaking (overtaking isn't too much of a problem but it's harder to do that in a road race so this must have been annoying!). Also the day was mega hot!! So make sure you're prepared for running in the heat (if we get the promised heatwave) without any shade! 

  • I'd echo the comments about last years event being a little chaotic at the start. But it was a fantastic event, and a great course, I'm toying with coming back up to Brum for it but the date doesn;t really work for me. Other than that I'd be back like a shot I loved it.

    The tunnel is interesting, but no real drama. Last year there was a diversion that added to the distance as part of the towpath was closed but was unavoidable.

    I used to live in Brum and there is loads of parking by the finish as it is next to the NIA and Sealife centre. And i guess you could park by New Street though I think that is a giant building site. At Wolvo it is a short walk from the station to the start and signposted from the station foyer. There are loads of trains on a saturday and it seemed that most of the train that I was on was heading to the event making for a quite social journey 

  • Thanks all I'm a local girl and Wolverhampton is just 15min on the train from New Street so think I'll opt for that. 

    FYI if you are driving into Brum DO NOT attempt to park at New Street station as above it is a huge building site and parking is a complete nightmare.  The race finishes at Brindley Place and there's is lots and lots of parking there, a few big multi stories and lots of on street parking too.

    Are there locks along the course? 

    I don't think overtaking will be a problem for meimage 

  • There are some locks, but not too many. The worst bit is actually the few bridges towards the end which do take a toll on tired legs. I used to live in Oldbury so was effectively in the middle of the course and knew the towpaths well which is why I came back up. It's primarily flat and well surfaced, a lot of it is gravel or paved.

  • bev hartbev hart ✭✭✭

    Done this for about 4 years and wouldn't miss it! Seems to be clicked at slightly mire than a Half tho......more like 13.8??

  • Bev I thought it was only long last year because of the diversion after the tunnel (and those f***ing steps) as they didn't move from the normal start and finish. Could be wrong though!

    I had decided that I wasn't going to do this this year. It clashes with the tour de france starting in Yorkshire and also Sonisphere festival which is pretty much within walking distance from my home and I was already torn between those 2. But just posting a few times on here has reminded me just how much I enjoyed it...

  • Yeah I agree, I think the problem with the course length was just because of the diversion last year, so hopefully should be back to 13.1 for this year! In the thread of last year's event most people's Garmins were reading about 13.6. I remember being at like 12.5 and picking up the pace a bit for a strong finish but then 13.1 came and went on my Garmin with no sign of the finish still!! 

    Not sure if I'll do it again this year, I just felt like I didn't enjoy it very much, but I think that was largely down to the heat so maybe I'm not giving it a fair chance!

  • I did this 2 years ago and i tnink it clocked 13.3m then, so I think it's long even without the diversion. I loved it, real character to it and very different. Planning to be back this year.  

  • ringo100ringo100 ✭✭✭

    I've ran it 4 times it always clocks a bit long. I love the novelty of it and to finish iwith a drink in the canals of Brindley place what could be better?

  • bev hartbev hart ✭✭✭

    Ringo 100:    hear hear! I park at my local station and change train from new street to Wolverhampton where station is right near signposted start and end up having a drink in brindley place watching runners coming in. It's a highlight of the running calendar!! Yes, very very hot last year and people arrived early to get it over and done with ,resulting in a long wait in the scorching sun....the diversion was a bit challenging with the steps but.......all good fun!

  • ringo100ringo100 ✭✭✭

    Hoping for a warm one this year and not a swamp mud feast like 2012

  • This was my first ever half marathon in 2012, it's ok but if you're someone who gets a boost from supporters cheering, you don't get this at all on this run with it being on the canal. Also it was so muddy when we did it, it made it a bit more difficult. Nice enough though and flat
  • Did this last year while still injured and had a torrid time - the heatwave and that ridiculous climb up what seemed like 200 steps didn't help, and the start was a farce frankly.

    Please tell me the diversion won't be in force this year? I feel like I have unfinished business with this race but the thought of the steps (which added about half a mile to the distance) puts me right off it.

  • anyone know how to get onto the bbchm website. it just takes you to some dodgy running advert page.

  • bev hartbev hart ✭✭✭

    Runners World events page......enter etc


  • I emailed the guy who is organising it because the website is not right. it should be 

  • Done this for the past five years and it's a great event but I'm a bit worried about this year's. The thing is the towpath into the tunnel is closed on the Wolverhampton side with metal barriers across it. The Canals Trust say it is closed until further notice and say that work to reopen it isn't due to start until November:

    A diversion to avoid the tunnel is possible but it would need to cross a couple of busy roads so would be tricky to marshal.

    Also I don't think the event website has been updated since last year.

    I emailed the organiser to voice these concerns but I got a bit of a shrugging answer saying that British Waterways (sic) hadn't told them of any problems therefore the event will go ahead as planned. I suggested that it may be an idea to double check in view of the  but didn't get a reply.

    Everything may well be ok and I may be making a fuss over nothing but...


  • @Booster - looking at this link, it is blocked on one side

    Which looking at this picture

    Suggests that the same diversion as last year will be in place...

  • Yes you're right, 2wheels, there is a path on the other side of the canal which I had forgotten about.

    Fuss over nothing it is then!

  • @Booster - A fuss over nothing? Do you not remember those steps!

  • Somewhat depressing that the diversion will still be in effect this year. Think I'll take the same approach as DarrenM. The main downside is that the diversion has a negative impact in two ways: (1) The nature of it means you'll slow down for that section, and (2) The diversion adds about half a mile onto the race distance.

    Sadly that means an event which should have PB potential given the flatness of the route becomes much harder to run a competitive time on.

  • With this much notice surely it is not too much to expect the organisers to adjust the start and make sure it is a proper half this year.

  • The tunnel is still closed. Apparently due to a landslip of the embankment on the south side of the tunnel (or Tipton side). I think you can get through the tunnel on the towpath on the otherside of the canal but then the towpath ends and you have to leave the canal to get back over to the towpath on the other side.  There is an easier running diversion using the path which runs alongside the fence of the Coseley School which brings you out at the same place but I'm sure the organisers know what they're doing.. well you'd hope so!

    That route always gives strange GPS results as well because of a few canal tunnels so take your Garmin results with a pinch of salt.  There's a tunnel around the Smethwick area which I train through and my Garmin 410 quite often gives some strange results.


  • In all honesty the best option to remove the diversion would be to put some temporary structure across the canal at the exit of the tunnel. I would happily pay an extra £1 in entry money in order to fund some kind of basic pontoon allowing the runners to cross to the other side of the canal.

  • Wonder why the website has not been updated  image

    It's all last years information. 

  • statt0 wrote (see)

    In all honesty the best option to remove the diversion would be to put some temporary structure across the canal at the exit of the tunnel. I would happily pay an extra £1 in entry money in order to fund some kind of basic pontoon allowing the runners to cross to the other side of the canal.

    If you look at the picture on the link I posted there doesn;t look to be enough room between the end of the tunnel and the landslide to actually do that. I also suspect that it would cost a lot more than £1 per entry to put something like that in place

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