The 2017 Cardiff University / Cardiff Half Marathon welcomed a record 19,500 runners to compete in the Welsh Capital on Sunday.
The horrendous weather conditions that were promised never materialised making for a very succesfull day of road racing at the IAAF Silver Label race.
The start of the 2017 Cardiff University / Cardiff Half Marathon
Edith Chelimo of Kenya began as a big favourite in the women's race following the withdrawal of Bahrain's Violah Jepchumba.
Chelimo covered the first 5km in 15:14, slowing slightly to cover 10km in 30:56. The Kenyan athlete was joined for most of the race by Wales' Josh Griffiths and Charlie Hulson and by Irish marathoner Mick Clohisey.
Chelimo won in 1:05:52 which smashed Mary Keitany's UK-all comers record from the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham of 1:06:36
Her time also makes her the sixth fastest female athlete of all time for the distance.
Edith Chelimo taking victory
Dorcus Kimeli (Kenya) was second in 1:10:50 with fellow Kenyan Beatrice Mutai third in 1:10:57.
Eithiopian Athlete Zeineba Yimer also finish in under 72 minutes, posting 1:11:31.
Jenny Nesbitt (Worcester AC) was the first Welsh athlete in fifth place overall. She was crowned Welsh Champion ahead of Silver medalist Caryl Jones (Swansea Harriers) and club mate Elinor Kirk Who took Bronze.
The men's race was a more open affair with possibly the strongest road race field assembled on Welsh soil outside of the IAAF World Championships from March 2016.
Amongst the favourites were defending Champion Shadrack Kimining, 2.05 marathoner and 2015 Berlin Marathon runner up, Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya) and Commonwealth Games 10,000m Silver medalist Josphat Bett (Kenya).
A group of four athletes passed 10km in 28:28. Hiskel Tewelde (Eritrea) was the first to loose touch with Kenyan trio John Lotiang, Shadrack Kimining (Kenya) and Kipkemoi Kiprono (Kenya).
Wales had been hoping for a sub 60 clocking and waiting crowds watched the big screen at the finish area as Welshman Dewi Griffiths (Swansea Harriers) started to close the gap on Tewelde in fourth place.
The Swansea Harrier commented after the race, telling the BBC; ''I’m over the moon. I knew I was in great shape, I’ve ran PBs over the last couple of weeks and it’s another one today. I knew I was in PB shape but it was just a case of how much it was''.
Dewi Griffiths in superb form on Sunday
When John Lotiang turned on to the home straight however it was clear that he would win with a new course record but agonisingly outide the hour mark.
Lotiang stopped the clock in 1:00:42 with Kimining also ahead of his 2016 mark in 1:00:49. The relatively unknown Kipkemoi Kiprono (Kenya) was third home in 1:01:10.
Attention then turned to local man Griffiths who ran an incredible new personal best of 1:01:33 finishing fourth to becomme the second fastest Welsh Athlete of all time and the joint 12th fastest British Athlete. Griffiths now currently sits third fastest British athlete of 2017, an accolade he adds to his first place ranking in the 2017 10km lists.
Hiskel Tewelde (Eritrea), Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya), Josphat Bett (Kenya), Masaya Taguchi (Japan), Elias Kemboi (Kenya) and Moussab Hadout (Morocco) cleared out the top 10 in that order.
After Griffiths it was Charlie Hulson (Sale Harriers) who became the Welsh Championship Silver medalist on his debut over the distance. Josh Griffiths took Bronze two months after starring att the IAAF World Championships Marathon in London.
Elite Athlete Manager, Alex Donald commented saying; ''We were delighted to put together our strongest fields yet. Our UK all-comers record saw Edith Chelimo become the sixth fastest athlete of all time for half marathon and that puts our event on the world map''.
He added: ''Dewi's performance was truly amazing and for him to perform that way at our race, on Welsh soil, makes it even more special. He took some great scalps including Eliud Kiptanui and a Commonwealth Games 10,000m Silver medalist, Josphat Bett''.
Some of the elite field pictured at the Festival of Races
The Cardiff University / Cardiff Half Marathon is the Uk's only IAAF Silver Label Race.
For elite entries please contact the Elite Race Co-ordinator, Alex Donald firstname.lastname@example.org
Course records were shattered as a record number of runners took to the streets of the capital for the 2016 Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon.
In the elite race, Kenya’s Shadrack Korir and Violah Jepchumba broke the existing men’s and women’s course records, while more runners than ever before completed Wales’ biggest mass participation event.
Dewi Griffiths pictured with the early leaders
Korir’s time of 60:54 was almost a minute quicker than the three-year-old course record of Loitarakwai Lenguirisi and in the women’s race Jepchumba stopped the clock at 68:14, taking close to three minutes off Susan Partridge’s record of 71:10 from 2012.
Matt Newman, chief executive of organisers Run 4 Wales, commented:
“It’s been another inspirational day. From the elite races and the two new course records to the mass race where more people took part than ever before.
“Once again we were blessed with fantastic weather and it was great to see so many tens of thousands of people out on the streets to support the runners.
“The exposure of live television coverage provides a huge boost to the race and also to the city, as people all over the UK and beyond get to see Cardiff at its very best.
“We strive to improve the event year-on-year and we are proud that all of the hard work has paid off and many thousands of people have enjoyed such a wonderful day.”
Wales’ leading distance runner Dewi Griffiths smashed his own personal best with a run of 63:26 to finish 9th overall and he believes the success of the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon is helping to put Wales on the map.
Griffiths said: “The conditions were lovely, the sun is out and Cardiff was at its best today. I saw the smiles on everyone’s faces as I came down the home straight, the support was amazing and the atmosphere was great.
“I got a big personal best so it’s a really happy day for me.
“Part of it is down to Steve (Jones), I’ve trained hard for the last couple of weeks and I’m becoming more mature. It’s nice to have Steve in my corner as a mentor after seeing what he did back in his day and I want to emulate him and beat his records.”
Official Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon ambassador and former marathon world record holder Steve Jones said: “Dewi has been coming out to the USA for two-and-a-half years now and I’ve seen improvements in his performance and commitment.
“He’s matured, he’s going in the right direction and he listens. He doesn’t say a lot but he listens and he is a vital part of my group now.”
Elite Athlete Co-ordinator, Alex Donald said: ''I was very pleased to be able to bring several of the world's top athletes to Cardiff for our race. It was a great step forward.
''Having Violah Jepchumba and Flomena Daniel competing with us was very special. It was also great to watch the men's race unfold.
''Just last year it would have been hard to imagine that we could have Kenyan Olympian Charles Mneria and the Paris Marathon Champion, Cyprian Kotut, battling to win our race''.
There was also a new world record as Cardiff’s Mike Kallenberg set the fastest half marathon time ever run while dressed as a superhero, finishing in an incredible 69:33 while dressed as Robin.
He was followed closely by friend Carwyn Jones dressed as Batman, with both runners raising money for Rob Bugden, who suffered serious injuries after a parachuting accident in Phoenix in January.
Great Britain international runner Mike said: “It was the hardest thing I have ever done, it was so warm!”
Carwyn added: “I am sure that Rob was watching on television and having a good laugh at us dressed like this but it’s all for a great cause.”
Runners were treated to near-perfect conditions, with glorious sunshine and only light winds as they attempted to complete the fast and flat course around Cardiff.
Olympic gold medal winner Owain Doull and two-time Paralympic gold medalist Aled Sion Davies started the race alongside Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of new title sponsors Cardiff University.
A whopping 17,110 crossed the start-line – a new event record – with several famous faces among them.
Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas had his 100 ‘Alfie’s Angels’ across the start-line. They are being featured as part of the second series of the hit BBC Wales television show Gareth Thomas: Alfie’s Angels.
The former international rugby star said: “The start was bit exciting for the girls and a few of them got a bit carried away and went off a bit quicker than they should have.
“But whatever happened I was determined to get them all over the finish line.”
Among Alfie’s Angels was actress and star of Torchwood Eve Miles, she said: “It was the thought of fish and chips at the end that got me through it!”.
The event was once again supported by Arriva Trains Wales, Brooks Running (who provide the unique finishers t-shirts) and Brecon Carreg – the official water. Aldi UK partnered the event for the first time this year, providing each runner with a banana and chocolate bar at the finish line.
If you’ve been inspired by this year’s race you can now sign-up for next year’s event.
Entries for the 2017 Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday 1 October are now open via www.cardiffhalfmarathon.co.uk with early bird prices starting from £29.
Charles Mneria, Cybrian Kotut and winner Shadrack Korir
Viola Jepchumba winning the ladies race