By Owen Morgan
Stellar fields will line up in both the men’s and women’s elite races at this Sunday’s Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon.
With more than half of the record 27,500 entry made up of women for the first time in the event’s 17-year history, there will be a particular focus on the female elite race where a trio of Kenyans should feature prominently.
Likely to be leading the charge is Paskalia Kipkoech (67:17) who claimed bronze at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in 2012.
Kipkoech is familiar with Cardiff after finishing seventh at the IAAF World Championships in 2016 when she was a member of the gold medal-winning Kenyan team.
Also challenging will be compatriot Lucy Cheruiyot (67:23) who was fourth at the 2019 Sportismo Prague Half Marathon, one place behind Lydia Mathathi (67:51) who is next fastest for Cardiff.
As well as a formidable African contingent, there is a strong domestic entry led by Louise Damen (70:47), who is the 15th fastest British athlete of all time.
Swansea Harrier Alaw Beynon-Thomas (76:38) is among the top Welsh athletes hoping to impress on home soil, with clubmate Sophie Harris making her competitive debut over the distance.
The men’s race will see two former winners vying for first place in Wales’ largest mass-participation event, which will be screened live on national TV for the first time.
Kenyans John Lotiang (60:16) and Shadrack Kimining (59:42) will be out to reclaim their Cardiff crowns after Australian Jack Rayner landed a surprise victory at last year’s Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships.
IAAF World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir, also from Kenya, will be determined to send a statement to the road running community in front of a worldwide audience.
The fastest man in the field is another Kenyan star, Wilson Chebet (59:14), who holds the course record for the Amsterdam Half Marathon.
Leading the Welsh challenge is Charlie Hulson, who has been in good form recently and will be eager to build on his 65:19 PB set at the Copenhagen Half Marathon last month.
The Liverpool Harrier enjoyed a successful cross country season either side of the start of this year, including representing Great Britain at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Holland.
Cardiff’s James Hunt will be looking forward to running in his home city especially having enjoyed a successful summer during which he clocked a half marathon personal best of 68:58 at the JCP Swansea Half Marathon in June.
Newport’s Abed Teweldebrhan will go into his first half marathon looking for a good time having run 5k and 10k PBs on the road this year as well as a big 5,000m best on the track in Nottingham in July.
Looking forward to the event, Run 4 Wales CEO Matt Newman said: “A record field of 27,500 runners of all abilities will make the 17th instalment of Wales’ largest mass-participation and fundraising event the biggest and best yet.
“Viewers will be treated to the excitement of a fiercely competitive elite race and elite wheelchair race, before a host of inspiring female runners taking on the challenge of a lifetime get the exposure they deserve as part of our #WhyWeRun campaign.
“Cardiff has a rich history of staging major sporting events and we are relishing the opportunity to add to the sporting fabric of the Welsh capital in front of a UK audience.”
The half marathon will be broadcast live on BBC One Wales and BBC Two across the UK, with event highlights later that evening at 10pm on BBC Two Wales.
A jungle themed Cardiff University Festival of Running will start the weekend on Saturday. A mascot race kicks off proceedings at 11am before the youngest Cardiff Half competitors take part in the 50 metre Toddler Dash at 11.15am. A 2.4km Family Fun Run starts at 11.45am.
- Live coverage will begin on BBC One Wales from 9:30am on Sunday morning, with viewers on BBC Two network joining at 9:45am. Highlights will be on BBC Two Wales at 10pm.