The Cardiff Half Marathon is as much a fixture of the Cardiff sporting calendar as any Six Nations rugby match. It may not command as much media attention outside of Wales, but in terms of footfall, both literal and figurative, and in what it brings to the city, it seems a fair match.
Weeks in advance we are warned about road closures and traffic, there are multiple personal sponsorship campaigns, a slight increase of joggers on the street. There is a palpable sense of excitement in the days beforehand as preparations begin to give the city a makeover, the City Hall runner zone takes shape and the hotels fill up. Lycra clad people in trainers tentatively stretch and lightly jog, gently familiarising their feet, legs and muscles with the city’s surfaces.
This year’s event was as big as ever. Following the IAAF World Half Marathon back in March, the appetite for road running around Cardiff was still there. And whereas March 2016 saw some of the worst possible weather, on October 2nd the city was graced with a sundrenched city from start to finish.
[Read the Composed piece: Cardiff Wins The IAAF World Half Marathon]
Everything shone. Making my way into the city at sunrise, I couldn’t help stopping for this.
Naturally everyone who completed the Cardiff Half Marathon was a ‘winner’ and took home one of these medals.
But there were elite performers who were first over the line in their respective races. As at the World Half Marathon several months ago, Kenyans dominated.
In the men’s race, Shadrack Korir of Kenya set a course record and a personal best of one hour and 54 seconds.
The first Welshman over the line was three-time Welsh half-marathon champion Dewi Griffiths of Swansea Harriers. He finished in eighth place with a time of 1:03:26.
Violah Jepchumba of Kenya won the women’s race in 1:08:14, another race record time.
Richie Powell of Ebbw Vale won the men’s wheelchair race by some distance in a time of 1:02:41.
Meanwhile, superhero Carwyn Jones (Batman) and his sidekick Mike Kallenberg (Robin – who clearly had ideas above his station by beating the main caped crusader) set a new Guinness World record for running in costume, both crossing the line under 71 minutes. Maybe swap costumes next time, guys?
[For editorial image use, visit the Composed Images photoshelter gallery of the Cardiff Half Marathon 2016]
Supporters and charities are a huge part of the Cardiff Half Marathon, and indeed of most half marathons or marathons across the UK. People lining the side of the road who cheer the runners on can give an incredible lift. With niggling injuries and depleted spirits, that encouragement can make a huge difference.
There are numerous signs of support waved in the direction of runners, both specific and very general. (“Go Random Stranger! Don’t Be sh#t!” was one of my favourites). Even a smile probably has the welcome benefit of being a distraction.
Runners often use their half marathon mission as a way of fundraising for a cause that means something to them. This can make an achievement all the more profound and personal. Which is acknowledged by many charities, some of whom send out teams to cheer their runners on, like this Macmillan squad.
And of course the funds raised can make a tremendous difference for the charities concerned.
Having a wealth of fast moving humans pour past the lens offers the chance to experiment with photography. You know what’s going to happen. From oddly jarring compositions that play with perspective and distance, to motion blur by slowing down the shutterspeed and panning with the runners; different effects can be imagined and created. You can safely fail in the knowledge another person or two or hundred will be along immediately.
My one moan would be that I didn’t have a motorbike to get around the course, as I luckily did for the World Half Marathon. So I settled myself around the start / finish lines in Cardiff city centre.
On the resplendent sunkissed face of it, the Cardiff University sponsored Cardiff Half Marathon 2016 appeared to be a wildly successful event, with smiles through the pain as far as the eye and lens could see. Excellent work and big congratulations to all involved.
Please get in touch if you’re interested in any running or sport photography for clubs or publications.
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