3,000 runners are set to take on the Virtual Bath Half Marathon this weekend in a celebration of fitness and health.

Following the postponement of this year’s race from its traditional March date to September, the organisers launched a number of virtual events culminating in the Virtual Bath Half Marathon this weekend, the original date of the race.

Runners will complete a half marathon over the weekend of the 13th and 14th March on a route of their own choice, in a single run, or a number of shorter runs, recording their runs on an on-line App such as Strava using a mobile phone or wearable technology such as Garmin.

After their performances have been verified by the organisers they will receive official finisher medals and T-shirts by post.

Organisers are asking runners to share their experience on social media at #virtualbathhalf and to email videos to [email protected] for a chance to be included on the event media channels and/or the official video produced after the event.

Running is the most popular sport in the UK, including an estimated 25,000 regular runners in the Bath area, and participation in running has increased during the last year as a result of continuing COVID restrictions on team sports, gyms and other facilities.

‘Events such as the BATHALF provide a focus each year for regular runners, and a gateway and a pathway into the sport for novices or returning runners. We also provide an invaluable platform for fundraising for a wide variety of charities, particularly local charities.

Virtual events have helped fill the gap during lockdown whilst live races have not been possible. The virtual events have helped provide motivation through the winter months, and have been very well supported by our local running community. Many will be raising money for local charities.

Early indications are that the Virtual BATHALF may raise as much as £100,000 for charity. We hope the public will support our runners if they see them out running this weekend, many will be wearing VIRTUAL BATHALF race numbers. Just remember to please support by clapping, not cheering, in line with COVID guidance.’

Andrew Taylor –Bath Half Marathon Race Director–Running High Events

Organisers have asked runners not to use the Bath Half Marathon route and to choose less busy routes or less busy times of day if possible. Under current restrictions runners are permitted to run either in family groups or with one other person outside their household.

Organisers stressed that outdoor activities, such as running have been consistently shown to be very low risk in terms of COVID transmission, and that there is no evidence of transmission from runners passing in the street. They also pointed to the overwhelming health benefits of regular exercise and physical fitness in terms of reducing COVID risks and a range of common health complaints including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia and improved mental health.