Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson recently welcomed the 500 runners who were given free places at the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships. The entries were made available to those within Welsh communities and to enthusiastic new runners as part of the IAAF’s ‘Athletics for a Better World’ social responsibility programme.
The race, scheduled for Saturday 26 March, will be of added significance as the city plays host to the 22nd edition of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
The release of the 500 places is part of IAAF, event organisers Run 4 Wales and title sponsors Cardiff University’s drive to promote running as an accessible physical activity that can improve long-term health.
Jackson, who grew up in Llanedeyrn in Cardiff, commented: “I grew up on a council estate and sport changed my life. Athletics is a very important tool in promoting social change. The great thing about the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships is anyone can take part. It doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner taking your first steps into running, if you commit to it and dedicate yourself to the training then you will be able to finish.”
Jackson added: “Cardiff 2016 is going to be a fantastic event and might be the only time the World Half Marathon Championships comes to Wales, so I’d urge everyone to make the most of the opportunity because I guarantee they won’t regret it.”
One group who will be taking part is the 3Gs Development Trust, a community regeneration partnership in north Merthyr. They have been preparing for the race by meeting up for group training sessions and member Kerry Lewis believes the half marathon has brought the team even closer together: “We’ve all grown up in the same area so it’s been great training as a team - we’re all like brothers. Most of us are completely new to running but we’re all really enjoying it. It’s given us something to focus on and is keeping a few of the boys out of trouble.”