With an international-standard track, elite trainers and comfortable, convenient accommodation, Birmingham was the perfect choice for the 2019 London Marathon Young Athletes Camp.
This annual training week is a vital component in securing the UK’s future supporting success.
For the last fifteen years, the camp has brought together up to 90 of the best young endurance athletes aged between 14 and 18 for an intensive week of training. It’s a powerful way to help bridge the gap between youth events and major competitions.
In previous years, the camp has been held at St Mary’s in Twickenham.
However, a review prompted a hunt for a new setting for the sixteenth event, which could provide the unique combination of environments and expertise required.
Step forward the University of Birmingham: the first (and only) University to be awarded a prestigious Gold Standard Charter Mark by England Athletics. The Mark acknowledges the breadth and quality of athletics support available to all, from students new to the sport to elite sports scholars, featuring outstanding facilities, mentoring and lifestyle support.
For this important training experience, it was the natural choice.
The University’s impressive sports facilities include an international-standard 400m training track, with eight floodlit lanes and a full range of throws and jumps.
Opening in 2017, the first to train on the track were the Jamaican team preparing for the World Athletics Championships.
The University’s Head of Athletics, Luke Gunn, is himself a former GB international.
His personal knowledge and expertise was accompanied by other UBSport staff who work in the performance centre with athletes all year round, on everything from nutrition to technique.
For the young athletes attending the camp, this was also an opportunity to learn from other leading names in the sport: current GB middle-distance athletes Melissa Courtney and Sarah McDonald, and former World Championships medallists Hannah England and Jenny Meadows.
Sponsorship from New Balance helped to attract elite athletes to offer insight, and also meant the young trainees left with goodie bags packed with essentials like training shoes.
“We have had a fantastic week with some of the best young athletes in the country. We hope that they have learned a lot from this week and they can take those learnings away and use them to develop their careers.”
Luke Gunn, Head of Athletics University of Birmingham
Attending the event weren’t just the young athletes, but also their family members and personal coaches.
They had two great options for their stay. Chamberlain at the Vale Village was a popular choice, with its lakeside setting and panoramic views across the city.
Both are on the University campus, and easy walking distance from Sport & Fitness and the athletics track. And that’s not all. Athletes often have unusual schedules, and distinct needs – like extra towels to account for multiple training sessions in a day. It’s all part of the service offered.
The University always takes catering for guests seriously.
Catering for athletes on rigorous training schedules, however, needs special consideration.
The team derived specialist menus, supported by the University’s Head of Sport Zena Wooldridge. Breakfast and dinner were served at Infusion restaurant at the Vale (or 1900 restaurant, for hotel guests). Lunches were served at Brook’s Sports Bar & Kitchen, a quick stroll from the track.
Feedback from the event was universally positive – from responses to the menus and the accommodation to the athletics training delivery itself.
“The University of Birmingham has been a great setting for the London Marathon Young Athletes Camp and the athletes have had an experience which will really stand them in good stead as they look to progress.
“Luke and his team put on a week-long programme that was both engaging and educational for the athletes and we hope to see many of them progress from here.”
Scott Overall, London Marathon Events
Happily, there’s much more to come.
In November 2019, the University of Birmingham announced its new role as the Birmingham Talent Hub. Supported by Sport England, this first ever British Athletics Hub will support athletes aged 16 to 23 with bespoke training and world-class expertise.
It’s all further proof that the University of Birmingham is a key destination for sport.
Working together, the UBSport and Conferences & events teams specialise in sporting events, from venues and accommodation to show courts and specialist staff.
- International-standard floodlit 400m track
- 50m swimming pool
- Flexible sports hall/arena with 791 bleacher seats and balcony for 200
- 6 glass-backed squash courts, with venues for show courts
- All-weather outdoor pitches
- Accommodation for groups and individuals, with the option to create a ‘Games Village’
- Catering packages and bespoke menus for athletes
- Extensive outdoor spaces for stages, marquees and structures
- Electrical supply outdoors
- Support with security and stewarding for outdoor events
- Wi-Fi in outdoor areas