Athletics made its debut in Birmingham since the 1860s when the Birmingham Athletic Club opened a gymnasium in the middle of the city and held its first festival. In 1880, the same club played a pivotal role in forming The Midland Counties Amateur Athletic Association (MCAAA), which was created in a bid to regulate the sport and stamp out malpractice and corruption.
Birmingham is strongly associated with British athletics to this day and is home to four main athletics clubs. The best known of these is the Birchfield Harriers, which was founded in 1877 and is based at the famous Alexander Stadium.
The Birchfield Harriers has produced many Olympic athletes during its long history. These include Pat Cropper MBE, Denise Lewis OBE, Arthur Robertson, Mark Lewis-Francis, Peter Radford, Kelly Sotherton, and Katharine Merry.
Construction work began on the Alexander Stadium in 1975 and it opened just a year later. The open-air stadium is located at Perry Barr in Birmingham and plays host to many international athletics events throughout each year. It is the training ground of the Birchfield Harriers, which also makes use of the stadium’s indoor high performance center with special facilities for elite athletes.
Another Birmingham venue, the Barclaycard Arena (previously the National Indoor Arena), has hosted some major indoor athletics events. Many of the world’s best Olympians, present and future, compete at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium and Barclaycard Arena.
Great Birmingham 10k
The Great Birmingham 10K is an annual running event held in central Birmingham against a backdrop of some of the city’s most recognisable sites. It passes the famous Selfridges building and Bullring Shopping Centre and goes out to the historic Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
In October 2017, Birmingham will host the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon, which will be held on the same day as the Great Birmingham Run: an annual half marathon that was established in 2008. The longer 26-mile event sets out from the Alexander Stadium, which is affectionately known as the home of British athletics.