Cardiff half marathon review: Returning to an old favourite

Cardiff half marathon

With the Yorkshire Marathon a week away, I knew I shouldn’t go hard in this race. I probably shouldn’t run a half the week before a marathon at all, but I couldn’t resist doing the Cardiff half – my first ever half and still my favourite. It was highly unlikely I’d be troubling my best form anyway, given my far-from-ideal build up. Weeks of issues running – struggles to breathe properly, and a tight chest when exercising – culminated in a personal worst at Dulwich parkrun the weekend before Cardiff. My legs felt fine, but every second hurt. I finally decided to go to see the doctor, who gave me antibiotics for a chest infection and an inhaler for exercise-induced asthma. Cardiff would be my first run with the inhaler, so I didn’t really know how it would work out.

COST

£32 affiliated, £34 (I think?) unaffiliated

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PRE-RACE ORGANISATION

Packs sent out in advance, everything easy to find. Nothing to complain about really!

TOILETS

Plenty of toilets in the runners’ village and start area. Bit of a queue close to start time, but despite one runner claiming we’d all miss the start, I made it to my pen with plenty of time to spare.

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THE RACE

I knew it would be foolish (not to mention not particularly achievable) to push for a PB, so my aim was just to get round in one piece and enjoy it.
There was a great atmosphere at the start as always, and it wasn’t long before we were off. The first couple of miles are probably some of the least interesting on the course – but are still well supported  and soon fly by.

While the course is pretty flat, around mile 3/4 there is a bit of a hill which seemed to have gotten steeper since I last did the race in 2014!

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After surviving that, I was soon coming into the Bay for the most beautiful part of the route. At this point I was actually on for a PB, but I was feeling slightly tight chested and told myself I would get out my inhaler as soon as I reached the 6 mile mark.

From here on things got a lot more tricky, and any hopes of an accidental PB swiftly disappeared!
Finding things a bit more difficult, I instead focused on the nostalgia fest as I ran along the roads I used to walk down as a student and passed the road I used to live on.

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I had slowed down a fair bit by the time I approached Roath Park, my favourite bit of the course, but was determined not to walk or stop for my inhaler until after I’d seen my family. In reality this meant that while I didn’t stop or walk, I slowed to a just-about-running pace as I scanned both sides of the road for familiar faces.

While this is wasn’t great for my time, I did manage to spot my dad, my dad’s girlfriend, her son, my boyfriend’s cousin and auntie, and my boyfriend’s parents during my lap of the lake.
Before I knew it I was heading down Cathays Terrace and snaking round the corner to the finish line. Not a great time, but I’d enjoyed it and felt comfortable afterwards, which is what I had been aiming for.

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RACE BLING

Cardiff half always has a nice medal, featuring a scene from the course, and this year was no exception. Bonus: this year’s design had been voted for by participants. I’d actually voted for a different design, but there’s always next year! The medal was also accompanied by a Brooks tech t-shirt, but once again they’d run out of my size when I finished. I was in the top half of finishers, so I can’t have been the only one to miss out. While this normally leaves me livid, after getting in touch with the organisers I had a t-shirt in my size sitting on my desk within a week.

OVERALL VERDICT

This is one of my favourite races, and not just because it’s one big nostalgia trip for me. Well organised, with a good route and solid support, I genuinely think it’s one of the best half marathons out there.

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