Sir Roger Bannister to start Vitality Oxford Half Marathon in 60th anniversary year

October 7, 2014 // Rachel Ellis

Organisers of the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon (Vitality OXFORDHALF) have confirmed that Sir Roger Bannister will officially start the race next weekend, 60 years after becoming the first ever person to run a mile in less than four minutes at Oxford University’s Iffley Road Track.

In addition to starting the Vitality OXFORDHALF just before 9.30am on Sunday 12th October, Sir Roger will also be selling and signing copies of his new biography, ‘Twin Tracks’, prior to the start of the race at the Kassam Stadium.

Sir Roger said: “The half marathon is a great event and will be a huge challenge for a lot of the runners taking part. I’m really looking forward to seeing off all the runners and getting to be a part of this fantastic race.”

Andrew Taylor, Vitality Oxford Half Marathon Race Director said: “It is an honour to have Sir Roger Bannister starting the race next weekend. The story and magic of Bannister’s achievement 60 years ago was an inspiration to me as a child and young athlete and I hope it captures the hearts and minds of our runners and spectators on race day”.

The Vitality Oxford Half Marathon will be celebrating all things ‘Bannister’ this year, as in addition to inviting him to officially start the race and sign copies of his biography for fans, the race organisers also announced the introduction of the BBC Radio Oxford Bannister Mile earlier this year; a unique opportunity to run in Bannister’s footsteps with one lap around the very track where history was made 60 years ago at Iffley Road. The lap will be timed in addition to the main race, so all entrants will receive an overall finish time as well as a time for the Bannister Mile.

Andrew added: “We are really excited by the introduction of the Bannister Mile at the Vitality OXFORDHALF. As an important and proud part of Oxfordshire’s history, what better way to celebrate Sir Roger’s amazing feat. We are extremely grateful to him for his continued support and look forward to welcoming him to the Kassam Stadium next weekend. Sir Roger will be there cheering on our thousands of runners as they make their way across the start line and we hope that our runners will do the same for him to honour his incredible achievement”.

Speaking for PruHealth and PruProtect, title sponsors of the Series, Neville Koopowitz, CEO, Vitality commented: “We are delighted and honoured that Sir Roger has given up his free time to start the Vitality Oxford Half in the 60th anniversary year of his famous sub four minute mile. Sir Roger is a true inspiration to all runners of any standard, and those lucky enough to take part in the race on 12th October will have a story to last a lifetime.”

The Vitality Oxford Half Marathon course is a fast-flat route that offers a unique scenic tour of the beautiful Oxford City and surrounding areas, starting and finishing at the iconic Kassam Stadium, passing through the Cowley Mini Plant, up Iffley Road into the city centre, crossing the famous Magdalen Bridge and incorporating a loop through the beautiful Christ Church Meadow before returning along the Thames Trail Path.

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Notes to editors:
· Sir Roger Bannister will be selling and signing copies of his book in the Kassam Stadium between 8am and 9am on race day, Sunday 12th October

About the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon
· Oxfam have been confirmed as the official Lead Charity for the 2014 Vitality Oxford Half Marathon, Helen & Douglas House have been confirmed as this year’s official Local Charity, and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation are the official Charity for the Vitality Run Series.

· The Vitality Oxford Half Marathon is part of the Vitality Run Series, a new national series of eight leading UK road races including the Vitality Bath Half Marathon.

· The 4th staging of this popular event will be held on Sunday 12th October. Entries for this year’s race were sold out well before race day.
About Vitality, the game changer for health and life insurance
Vitality is the healthy living rewards programme run by PruHealth and PruProtect, that helps people understand how they can improve their own personal health, makes it cheaper and easier for them to get healthy and gives rewards to keep them motivated. PruHealth’s and PruProtect’s sponsorship of the Vitality Run Series complements these activities and helps people set and achieve new fitness goals.

PruProtect and PruHealth have partnered with a number of Vitality Ambassadors, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sebastian Coe and Jonny Wilkinson, who are role models who embody the values of Vitality. They are all using their passion for living a healthy lifestyle to motivate others to make positive changes. Taking small steps today can dramatically improve wellbeing over the long-term, regardless of your current state of health.

Through Vitality, PruHealth’s and PruProtect’s goal is to empower people to live healthy, active lives by making it easy for them through activities such as half price gym memberships or bicycles. Its sponsorship of the Vitality Run Series complements these activities and helps people set and achieve new fitness goals.

About PruHealth and PruProtect

PruHealth with Vitality is one of the UK’s leading private medical insurers which has pioneered a new style of cover – Lifestyle Health Insurance. As well as providing first class cover and clinical care for when people are ill, it focuses equally on prevention and keeping people fit and healthy. It launched in the UK in 2004 as a joint venture between two large international financial services companies – Prudential plc and Discovery, a South African listed company operating in the USA, China and Singapore as well as the UK and South Africa.

PruProtect was launched in September 2007 as an extension of the joint venture between Prudential and Discovery. One of the fastest growing life insurers in the UK, it is unique to the current UK protection market and its suite of products includes Life Cover, Income Protection Cover and severity based Serious Illness Cover, additional benefits and Business Protection. By recognising people’s efforts to look after themselves, PruProtect is able to offer a more comprehensive set of benefits than traditional providers at a very competitive price.