Kenyan dominance as Cardiff Half is roaring success

Vice Chancellor and AU President praise the Cardiff Half event

By James Lloyd

Cardiff University’s Vice Chancellor, Colin Riordan and Athletic Union President, Elin Harding both expressed their delight as the Cardiff Half Marathon took place last Sunday with the university as the title sponsor.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing for Cardiff University to be involved in an event like this”, said Riordan.

“It’s really important for Cardiff and great to help promote mass participation in sport which is so important for public health. I’m really delighted that Cardiff University is part of it.”

With the Welsh capital bathed in sunshine, thousands of spectators turned out to watch the 13 mile race as over 17,000 runners took part.

And Harding, who recently took over as Vice President of Sports at the University, said: “Everyone was just buzzing. Watching people going past and seeing all the emotions was great.

“You couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. It wasn’t too hot it was cool and bright sunshine so it was just perfect. It was brilliant, everyone had smiles on their faces and I think the weather got more people watching.”

Riordan was also full of praise for the fans that turned out to watch the race.

He said: “It’s a splendid atmosphere here in beautiful weather. We’ve been really lucky with the weather. It’s great to see the spirit and enthusiasm and also to see so many supporters here as well.”

Riordan, who has been President and Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University since 2012, believes the university will continue its support of the event as it closes in on overtaking the Great North Run as the most popular half marathon in the United Kingdom.

“It’s an event we’ll look to support in the immediate future it’s a great thing to be doing.

“We’re now the second biggest after the Great North Run and I can see us catching up.”

Harding was selected to hold the tape as the winners crossed the finish line at the end of the 13 mile course.

“It was a massive privilege to be asked to do it”, said Harding. “It was an amazing atmosphere being right on the finish line. My heart was going as the winner was coming down the finishing straight, it was really exciting with all the press there. It was an amazing feeling.”

The course started on Castle Street, looped around Penarth and Cardiff Bay before winding its way through Roath Park Lake, finishing on King Edward VII Avenue road by the Temple of Peace and the university’s Bute Building.

Kenyan Shadrack Korir beat Paris marathon champion and compatriot Cybrian Kotut to win the men’s race with Charles Mneria in third. Korir smashed the course record with a time of 60 minutes, 54 seconds.

And the Kenyan dominance didn’t stop there as Viola Jepchumba cruised to victory in the women’s race beating Flomena Daniel and Lenah Jerotich.

Welsh runner, Dewi Griffiths finished in eighth place as his stock continues to rise. The Swansea based athlete was full of admiration for the Cardiff event.

He said: “This course is nice, I’ve ran it a couple of times I knew what to expect. It was perfect conditions, it was a good race, pretty fast and nice to get the personal best.”

The 25 year old, added: “I was about five more seconds quicker than before, so I’ve beat my personal best from the world half marathon in March.

“You always get cheers, I was getting tired towards the second half of the race, but the noise kept me going.”

Hundreds of Cardiff University students also took part in the event with many combining the taste of individual success with the joy of raising money for charity.

Amongst those students was Architecture student, Olivia Stitson who completed the race with a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes.

“It was a pretty great run actually, a nice route, I thought”, said Stitson. “I took it pretty slow as I had an asthma attack last week so I didn’t want to push myself too much.”

Stitson applauded the friendliness and organisation from the event. She said: “I thought the sportsmanship was really lovely. There was a lot of people helping each other along. I had two ladies at the end who held my hand and we ran to the end together which was really good.”

Fellow university student Amy Powell was running a half-marathon for the first time as she completed a time of 2 hours and 9 minutes.

“It was really hard, I enjoyed the first couple of miles but it was really tough”, said Powell who ran the event with a friend after a booze-fuelled sign up.

“I signed him up when he was drunk and a month later he was pushing me saying I had to do it, so I thought ‘I have to do this too’, but he ran it for the British Heart Foundation for his Dad so I’ve donated money to him.”

And organisers at Run 4 Wales have guaranteed that Cardiff will stage a full marathon in April 2017. Speaking to BBC Sport, Chief Executive Matt Newman, said: “People keep asking me about a marathon so we are going to put one on.

“Run 4 Wales will be putting on a full marathon in April as a precursor to the London Marathon. There is huge demand. Plans are in place and almost finalised and we should be ready to launch in the next two weeks.”