Saturday 26 March 2016 “Run in the Footstep of Champions” (or “Beaten by Mo Again!”).
The World Half Marathon takes place every two years, with the UK and Cardiff having the honour of hosting the event this year.
The race was a bit ‘special’ as it was targeted as a good warm up for elites aiming for the Olympics this summer. There was also a mass participation race added to the event hence the above strap line, which is what attracted the author to enter: lining up with the best in the World! (And prep for the London Marathon…).
The days leading up to race day were beautiful – dry, cool, sunny ideal running weather. However, the forecast for the Saturday was not good: cold, windy, with the probability of a storm coming through. The forecast was exactly right!
The race start was right in front of Cardiff Castle, and followed a fast and reasonably flat anti-clockwise course round the sights of Cardiff, via the coast and over the barrage back into the city to a finish near the City Hall.
The author’s aim was to tuck in for the first few miles (into a cold head wind), run fast in the middle section with hopefully a tail wind and then see what was left for the last couple of miles. In the event, the course was reasonably sheltered and so the main effect of the weather was from the aforementioned storm – a brief thrashing of icy cold hail from the left as we crossed the most exposed part of the course. This literally made everyone gasp in shock and acted as a mid race ice bath to refocus. No chance of slowing down as we were too cold and wet! (Many of you may have watched the elite race on TV and seen that the storm was so bad that coverage was lost for a few minutes!).
The race winner was Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor of Kenya in 59:10. This was a spectacular effort as he got tripped and fell right at the start so set off bleeding and at a significant disadvantage. Muchiri of Kenya was second with Mo Farah a very good third in 59:59. The elite ladies’ race was a Kenyan 1-2-3 with Pascalia Jechirchir winning in 67:31 followed by Limo and Ngugi.
Paul Hopkinson was the only Puma running as far as he knows and finished in 1:43:07 – 2,341 out of 11,348 finishers and 80th out of 336 in his age group. Jenny Hopkinson was unfortunately injured and so could not run.
In summary, the race was extremely well organised, the course excellent and the City is well worth a visit. The bling and tee shirt were also of top quality! There is the normal Cardiff half marathon on 2 October 2016 if anyone’s appetite has been whetted for a weekend break.
Report by Paul Hopkinson