Thank you Cardiff – once again you established that the Welsh capital is one of the world’s great stages for international sport. What a race the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon was and what an honour to see the greatest athletes in the world racing for major medals through our streets.
Everyone, but everyone, commented on the support and we were all hugely emotional at the start when all you could see was thousands of runners being supported by tens of thousands of fans. And it was like that all the way round.
Mo Farah couldn’t believe the support he received and our own Dewi Griffiths was almost in tears at the end after clocking a personal best time and finishing as the third British scorer. He summed it all up to me when he said: “That was just the most incredible experience of my life.”
It’s amazing to think how far the Cardiff Half Marathon and particularly the Run4Wales team have come over the past five years. We said after the race in Copenhagen two years ago that we wanted to stage the best ever World Half Marathon Championships, and I think we did it.
But we couldn’t have raised the bar without the fantastic partnerships with so many key players – the IAAF, BBC, British Athletics, the Welsh Government, Cardiff Council, and of course, our title sponsors Cardiff University.
Add to that some crucial support from Brecon Carreg, High Five Sports Nutrition, Sinclair Volkswagen and Eleventh Hour Events, and you’ve got a world class team that help deliver a truly world class event.
But it was the people of Cardiff who came out in their droves in the rain to show their appreciation who really helped turn the event into something special.
The athletes were bowled over, the TV commentators were gushing in their praise and I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support.
There are always a few key personnel who make any team tick, and our race director, Steve Brace showed the world he is up there with the best.
And then there were the 1200 volunteers who simply didn’t want to miss out on wanting to be a part of something special.
It was an event that was supposed to be for the elite athletes in the world, but it turned into a festival of sport that not even torrential rain and chilling winds could put a dampener on.
The ‘can do attitude’ of Cardiff and Wales was epitomised by the Deputy Minster of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Ken Skates, who helped with the opening ceremony and then quickly got out of his suit, superman style, to put on his running kit to take on the new Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, in a political battle that was every bit as intense as that between Geoffrey Kamworor, our champion, and the great Mo Farah.
What a day, what a race, what an event – Cardiff really is one of the sporting capitals in the world.