The Cardiff Half Marathon attracted a record field of more than 16,000 runners to the Welsh capital on Sunday (4 October). The race saw an extremely close duel between Kenyan pair Lenah Jerotich and Demaris Kemunto, with just one second separating the female athletes, while Uganda’s Ben Siwa took top place in the male competition.
Sunday’s event held extra significance as it was the last to be held in Cardiff before the city plays host to the 22nd edition of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in March. It will be the largest athletics event to be staged in the country since Wales hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1958.
Jerotich and Kemunto were inseparable at the half way point and this proved to be the case for the majority of the 13.1 miles. Jerotich, however, prevailed in 1:11:30, with Kemunto crossing the line in 1:11:31. Following the Kenyans was Stockport Harrier, Jess Coulson, who finished in a highly impressive 71:36.
The 25-year-old, who was making her half marathon debut, commented: “I simply ran out of road in the end. I didn’t want to start off too fast but at about eight miles I decided I would try to pick off the girls in front of me. I had a great group of lads around me and they really helped.”
“I had only ever run competitively up to 10 miles before but I didn’t struggle with the extra distance. I came here looking for a British vest and I am delighted to have clinched it. The support around the course was amazing and I am really looking forward to coming back here.”
In the men’s competition, Siwa set a ferocious early pace – clocking 4:42 for the first mile – and maintained his momentum to cross the line and set a new PB of 62:06. The Ugandan’s time was just 16 seconds off Lotarakwai Lengurisi’s course record, set in 2013. Behind Siwa, three runners were involved in an extremely close contest with just a matter of seconds separating Gideon Kimosop (63:09), Assefa Bekele (63:10) and Dan Tanui (63:12).
British interest focused on Ryan McLeod and home favourite Dewi Griffiths, who were both keen to record a strong performance prior to IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships in March. McLeod overtook Griffiths towards the end of the race to finish in 6th position in 64:19, with the Welshman following in 64:28.
McLeod said: “I thought at five miles I was going to reel him in pretty quickly but it actually took me another seven miles before I caught him up I was 24 seconds down at five miles and at that stage we were both running at the same pace. When I managed to push past him just after 12 miles it was a question of staying in front and not allowing him to close the gap.”