By Owen Morgan
Charlotte Arter and Sam Gordon will be among an array of top Welsh athletes in action as Cardiff finally takes the sport’s centre stage this weekend.
After months largely starved of competitive athletics action, the capital city hosts two Welsh Athletics pilot events on Friday and Saturday.
Meanwhile, Swansea University Athletics Stadium will host an endurance track event on Sunday.
Unfortunately, I'm based in the Rhondda which means that I'm now in lockdown, so can't race. Absolutely the right decision by the government to do so. Health of the nation comes first. Best of luck to everybody in the race 🙌 enjoy being out there! @WelshAthletics @FastRunning https://t.co/GR7gWr5e7I
— Tom Marshall (@TomMarshall1500) September 16, 2020
Some of the nation’s top athletes will be competing across the events as the sport continues its careful return to something approaching normality.
All three competitions will be subject to all the existing COVID-19 restrictions and precautions, including an absence of spectators.
The action gets underway on Friday evening with a return of competitive road racing in the shape of the Cardiff Sunset 5K.
Joining parkrun world record holder Arter in a quality women’s field will be the likes of Cardiff Athletics teammate and training partner Clara Evans, fresh from her personal best of 72:21 and third place at the Antrim Coast Half Marathon last weekend.
Also toeing the line in the women’s race will be Parc Bryn Bach’s Lauren Cooper, who recently finished fourth in the 3,000m steeplechase at the British Athletics Championships in Manchester.
Making a welcome return to Welsh soil will be Cardiff’s Ffion Price, who has been studying at Mississippi State University since winning the Welsh 1500m title in 2018.
Alaw Beynon-Thomas, of Les Croupiers Running Club will also be hoping to be amongst the front runners as the fifth fastest athlete on paper.
The men’s line-up is equally impressive. The fastest man in the field is Swansea Harrier Guy Smith, who has a PB of 14:26.
Hot on his heels is like to be rising Menai Track and Field star Osian Perrin, who was in winning form at the Welsh Cross Country Championships before lockdown and has continued in that vein since the sport’s return.
Cardiff’s Matthew Edwards is the next fastest man on paper with a PB of 14:32, while Swansea Harrier Marc Hobbs and Newport’s Abed Teweldebrahn are also sure to feature prominently.
Held on the fast, flat SSAFA 5km race series course, the limited-entry, invitation-only race will see the athletes adhering to strict COVID-19 restrictions before during and after the event.
Unfortunately, Rhondda-based Commonwealth Games middle distance athlete Tom Marshall won’t be able to take up his invitation due to the recent tighter restrictions imposed on the RCT county borough.
There will be a sharp change of pace on Saturday when the Cardiff International Sports Campus hosts a sprints open pilot event.
Welsh 100m champion Gordon will be competing over his favoured distance at the event which will feature under-17, under-20 and senior athletes running over 100 and 200m.
Also due to be lining up over the shorter distance is Neath Harrier Owain Lloyd-Hughes, who is the fastest Welshman over 100m this year with a time of 10.38.
The women’s 100m will feature promising under-20 athletes Issie Tustin, of Cardiff Athletics and Cardiff Archer Grace Morgan.
There will be a pair of Great Britain 400m internationals lining up in the men’s 200m races in the shape of Cardiff’s Owen Smith and Swansea Harrier Joe Brier, who will be full of confidence after a fine one-lap win in Slovakia last weekend.
— Joe Brier (@joebrier99) September 11, 2020
Cardiff’s Lana Culliford should be in equally buoyant mood in the women’s 200m following a PB of 25.31 in Yate recently. Archer Caitlin Mapps will also be one to look out for having run 25.01 this season.
Sunday’s track endurance event in Swansea will see races held across 800m, 1500m and 3,000m distances, along with a 3000m race walk.
More information on each event can be found on the Welsh Athletics website.