Hayley Carruthers said competing in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games marathon would be a "dream come true" as the route was revealed ©Birmingham 2022

Victoria Square in Birmingham city centre has been revealed as the finishing destination for the marathon events at next year's Commonwealth Games, and local athlete Hayley Carruthers said competing in a "big" race so close to home would be a "dream come true."

The 42.2 kilometres route for the men's and women's marathon and the men's and women's T53/T54 races will begin at Smithfield, which is also located centrally in the English city.

Runners will then embark on two laps of an 18km southern loop, which heads past Edgbaston Cricket Ground to Stirchley, then takes in Bournville and Selly Oak before returning along the A441 road towards the city centre.

After the completion of the second lap, the final 6.2km takes competitors past several of Birmingham's landmarks, including the Centenary Square, Jewellery Quarter, St Paul's Square and St Phillip's Cathedral before the winners are crowned at the Victoria Square finishing line.

One athlete who knows the areas the route will take in well is Birmingham-based runner Hayley Carruthers, who told insidethegames that being selected to represent England in the marathon race would be a "dream come true."

The 28-year-old's personal best across 42.2km came at the Valencia Marathon in December 2019, when she clocked 2 hours 32min 45sec.

At the London Marathon earlier that year, she placed 18th with a time of 2:33:59.

"After a turbulent couple of years from everybody, it's nice to just have something set in stone that we know is definitely going ahead, and you don't ever take racing for granted anymore," Carruthers said.

"For the first 'big' event to be back in Birmingham and be a Commonwealth Games almost feels too good to be true, it feels a bit like dream come true really.

"It would definitely be once-in-a-lifetime, because in my running career, I don’t think the Commonwealths or the Olympics will be in Birmingham again, so for it to be during my career would be out of this world, there's no words really to describe how amazing it would be.

"With the marathon it's a very long way and a lot can happen, so if you get on the start line for the trials and you're in the best shape you possibly can be, it's anyone's game - you've got to be in it to win it."

The women's marathon at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games was won by Namibia's Helalia Johannes with 2:32:40, with Sonia Samuels the best placed English runner in fifth with 2:36:59.

Carruthers believes the route is challenging but still one to relish, and is hoping to draw on her local knowledge of the course to serve her well at trials for the England team, and hopefully the race at the Commonwealth Games when it takes place on July 30 2022.

"I think it's not going to be the flattest of courses, but it doesn't stop it being fast," she said.

"The roads are really good and running around Cannon Hill Park, there are some slight inclines, but because it's my home turf I know the roads really well, and I feel like I'd have an advantage because I know where the hills are, so I can think of where to hold back and push around corners and be a lot more tactical.

"It goes through Cannon Hill Park, around the Edgbaston Stadium and through town, and a lot of the places are pedestrianised, so I can actually replicate the race in my training.

"And with around six months to go now until the trial, I've got a lot of time to prepare specifically for that.

Matt Kidson (left), Hannah England (second left), Hayley Carruthers (second right) and Cllr Ian Ward (right) unveiled the marathon route which includes a 6.2km lap of Birmingham city centre ©Birmingham 2022
Matt Kidson (left), Hannah England (second left), Hayley Carruthers (second right) and Cllr Ian Ward (right) unveiled the marathon route which includes a 6.2km lap of Birmingham city centre ©Birmingham 2022

"I think it's going to be amazing having run the route so many times, it will make you a lot less nervous because you know exactly how and where you're going."

The director of sport at Birmingham 2022 Matt Kidson explained that showcasing the city's major attractions had been key.

"It [the process of deciding the routes] involves working with a number of stakeholders and partners," Kidson said.

"Ultimately what we wanted to do initially is to have a city centre route to the marathon in particular, just because we want to have as many spectators down here as possible because it helps the athletes' experience and ultimately their performance.

"We worked really closely with Birmingham City Council on what they wanted to showcase in the city.

"There's been so much redevelopment here, and we really wanted to let the world and the rest of the UK know what a wonderful city centre Birmingham is, so it was all a bit of a jigsaw working with all our different partners to really come up with what we think is the best possible route for the city and for the athletes."

The announcement of the route came more than nine months prior to when the events are due to take place, and Kidson said this was important to provide athletes with sufficient preparation time.

"It's a very big announcement for us," he said.

"With the complexity of designing road courses and the impact it has on people in the city and the regions, we want to get it out there nice and early so people can plan for the Games, but most importantly for me in my role, we wanted the athletes to know what the courses are going to be so they can start planning and start visualising their races, because that preparation is so important for them."

He also hopes the route will be conducive to a big crowd gathering to cheer on the runners.

"The more spectators we have lining the course the better it is for the athletes, and the better it is for everyone, it will be a wonderful, special atmosphere like it would be for say the London Marathon each year when you get down there and see how many people that race attracts.

"We're really excited about it because it's ultimately a free event as well, so we're really encouraging people to come down with friends and family and make a day of it.

Hayley Carruthers said she thinks the marathon route is
Hayley Carruthers said she thinks the marathon route is "not going to be the flattest of courses, but it doesn't stop it being fast" ©Birmingham 2022

"We've got four races - we've got the men's race, the women's race and the men's and women's wheelchair races as well, so it's a great way of us showcasing elite sport for able-bodied and Para athletes."

The routes for the other road events at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have also been revealed.

The cycling road race on August 7 2022 had already been confirmed to start and finish at St Nicholas Park in the nearby town of Warwick.

The 16km lap has now been confirmed in full, taking in landmarks such as the Grade I listed Lord Leycester Hospital, Victoria Park in Royal Leamington Spa and Warwick Castle.

The women's race will feature seven laps of this course, and the men's race 10 laps.

For the time trial on August 4 2022, Wolverhampton's West Park had been revealed as the start and finish line.

Both the men's and women's races will head south through Sedgley to Dudley, passing the town's castle and zoo, before riders head through Staffordshire.

The men's race includes an extended loop to take its length to 37.4km, but both races have the same finishing straight towards Wolverhampton.

The women's race is 28.8km and is expected to welcome approximately 30 cyclists, with the men's time trial featuring 60 athletes.

The cycling road race will start and finish in nearby Warwick, taking in landmarks such as Warwick Castle ©Getty Images
The cycling road race will start and finish in nearby Warwick, taking in landmarks such as Warwick Castle ©Getty Images

Finally, the triathlon and Para triathlon events on July 29 and 31 will take place in Sutton Park and the surrounding area.

For the individual events, the 750 metres swim will take place in Powell's Pool in the park, the 20km cycle features four laps of a 5km course passing through Boldmere, Oscott and New Oscott, and the 5km run will be held entirely in Sutton Park with two 2.5km laps.

The Para triathlon and mixed relay events will feature only one lap of the cycling route.

With the venues now finalised for the Games, Kidson provided an update on how preparations are progressing as a whole, and is confident that Birmingham is well-positioned to deliver the event.

"In terms of preparations, Alexander Stadium is looking great - it's on track and it's on time, the same with the Sandwell Aquatics Centre," Kidson said.

"And the preparations themselves, we're really pleased with where we're at.

"We've got lots and lots of work still to do in the next nine months, but we're really pleased with where we are.

"We think we're going to put on an amazing Opening and Closing Ceremony, and then world-class sport across 11 days and 19 sports, we think it's going to be a wonderful event for the city, the region and the UK, so we're incredibly excited."

The Alexander Stadium, which is due to host athletics events and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, is undergoing a £72.4 million ($99 million/ €84.4 million) renovation which will see its capacity expanded to around 30,000 for the Games.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are due to be staged from July 28 to August 8.