Welsh hopes take on top-class international line-up at the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday
The spotlight might be on London this weekend but the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday (Oct 2) features athletes from as far afield as Canada, Ethiopia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand and Uganda.
With a best of 59:32 Geoffrey Koech is the fastest on paper and a prolific racer, becoming the fourth fastest 10km man in history when he won the Birell Prague Grand Prix in 27:04 in 2019. Namesake Geoffrey Yegon has multiple half marathon wins to his name including victories at the Hague, Hamburg and at Venlo and has run 59:44.
Gizealaw Abeje Ayana is next fastest with 59:41 and was second at the Poznan Half Marathon last year.
Hailemaryam Kiros came within a second of the one-hour mark at the World Half Marathon Championship in Poland in 2020 and is joined by fellow Ethiopia Chimdessa Gudeta (PB 60:15) who won the Laredo 10km race in 27:23 earlier this year.
Three promising half-marathon debutants will be in action. Matthew Ckekwurui is the Ugandan 10,000m champion, Kelvin Kibiwott was second at the Laredo 10km in 2021, whereas Ethiopia’s Workineh Tadesse was third at the Hamburg Marathon this year in 2:05:01.
Ken Nakayama is the latest Japanese athlete to travel to Cardiff and his best of 60:38 makes him the joint eighth fastest Japanese man in history.
Home hopes include Dewi Griffiths and he has proved a return to fitness this year with 11th place at the Commonwealth Games marathon in Birmingham. Prior to that he won the Welsh 10km title and the Great Birmingham Run in May.
Canadian Ben Preisner is a 2:10:17 performer in the marathon and will chase the Canadian record of 61:08 in Cardiff.
Further British entries include Zakariya Mahamed, who was third in the March edition of the race and will be joined by Kieran Clements (64:31) and Norman Shreeve (64:34).
In the women’s race Kenyan Viola Chepngeno is the fastest on paper with 66:48 and won the Gent Half Marathon in Belgium this year.
Beatrice Cheserek won the Gothenburg Half Marathon last September and will be hoping to break her PB of 67:38 in Cardiff.
Zewditu Aderaw is the leading Ethiopian in the women’s field and recorded her PB of 68:03 earlier this year at the Buenos Aires Half Marathon.
Cynthia Nolari (PB 68:04) will be competing in her second of the Superhalfs Series in 2022 following eighth place in Prague.
Birhan Mhretu (PB 69:25) returns to Cardiff having finished fifth here in 2019. Susy Chemaimak is another athlete tipped to radically reform her PB of 72:10 on Sunday.
Welsh marathon record-holder Natasha Cockram is the leading Welsh entry on the women’s side with a best of 70:47. She was the British marathon champion in 2020 and is also the third fastest Welsh athlete in history for half marathon.
Naomi Mitchell is the next fastest British Athlete with a best of 71:52 and 2021 Manchester Marathon champion Anna Bracegirdle (73:21) is next fastest of the Welsh athletes, closely followed by Welsh 10km champion Olivia Tsim (73:38).
The course records that are under threat are 59:30 for the men and 65:52 for women.
This is the second time the Cardiff Half has taken place in 2022 because the rescheduled 2020 event, which was delayed because of the pandemic, took place earlier in the year in March.
The main race waves start at 10am Sunday and the event will be covered on S4C and BBC iPlayer from October 7.
» For more AW news, CLICK HERE