Wales has won the right to host the prestigious IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff in 2016.
The decision was announced in Monaco today (Friday, 15 November) at the IAAF’s council meeting and means the world’s best male and female endurance athletes will use the Cardiff Half Marathon course as part of their preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The event is the first of its kind to be staged in Wales and will be the biggest athletics event hosted by the country since the 1958 Commonwealth Games. The race will take place in March, 2016, with runners of all standards able to join in the same event as the elite athletes.
“This is a major coup of Cardiff and Wales and is a huge endorsement of the excellent work that has been put into the Cardiff Half Marathon over the past decade,” said Welsh Athletics CEO Matt Newman.
“It is a major achievement for a small nation like Wales to be able to win an IAAF major championship event and our successful bid proved the power of the partnerships we have been able to build in recent years with the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council.
“Both agencies were vital parts of our bid and the collective vision we were able to present for the event obviously impressed the IAAF council. Now we have less than three years to prepare for one of the most prestigious sporting events ever staged in Wales and we intend to make it one to remember.”
The 2016 race will be the 22nd running of the event and Cardiff will follow Copenhagen, who host the 19th championships on 29 March, 2014. It will be the fourth time the race has been run in the UK. South Shields staged the inaugural championships in 1992 and the championships have also been held in Bristol in 2001 and Birmingham in 2009.
There were 146 athletes from 41 nations competing at the 2012 event in Kavarna, Bulgaria, and Zersenay Tadese, of Eritrea, won the men’s title in 60:19 and Meseret Hailu, of Ethiopia, won the women’s race in 68:55. The total IAAF prize pot totalled US$ 245,000.
Liz McColgan and Paula Radcliffe, on three occasions, have won the women’s title, but no British male athlete has come home first. No fewer than 17 of the 20 titles to date have gone to African athletes, with Kenya winning 10 titles.
“The Cardiff Half Marathon has become an iconic part of the Welsh sporting landscape and the past two years, with a 27% growth in entries, have amply demonstrated the true potential of the event,” said Nigel Roberts, chairman of Run 4 Wales, who organise the race.
“The challenge we now face is to use the 2014 and 2015 events to prepare the ground for the World Championships, when the streets of the Welsh capital will be pounded by some of the greatest athletes in the world.
“Wouldn’t it be great to see Britain’s own Mo Farrah possibly become the first British athlete to win the title as a stepping stone to another Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro later in 2016. This is great news for our event, but also a ringing endorsement for Cardiff as a city that can stage the most spectacular international sporting events.
“There will be a major economic impact for the city from the race and both Cardiff and Wales will be broadcast around the world.”
First Minister of Wales, Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM said:
“I am delighted that the IAAF World Half Marathon will be hosted here in Wales. This is the latest in a string of major events to be held in Wales, for which we have gained a proud track record for providing a warm Welsh welcome and getting the job done.
“We have already built the foundations, with the Cardiff Half Marathon now attracting close to 20,000 entries. I believe this, combined with the presence of the world’s greatest distance runners, provides both Wales and the IAAF with a special opportunity to showcase Wales to the world.”
Cabinet Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, Cllr Ramesh Patel said:
“We have worked hard to showcase Cardiff as a model host city for this event and through the success of the Cardiff Half Marathon the capital has demonstrated it has the capacity and infrastructure required.
“This hugely exciting news further compliments the city’s vast sporting event portfolio and promotes Cardiff to an international audience. It will showcase Cardiff’s heritage, infrastructure, amenities and landscape and have a positive impact on the local economy and that of the surrounding regions, benefitting local businesses such as hotels and restaurants as well as generating income for retailers.”
Lynn Davies CBE, President of UK Athletics said:
“Wales is a proud athletics nation – the birthplace of greats such as Colin Jackson, Steve Jones, Tanni-Grey Thompson, Dai Greene and many more – and it is my great pleasure to welcome the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships to Cardiff.
“In my time as President of UK Athletics I am delighted that we have hosted so many successful IAAF events in the UK, and we put a lot of hard in to ensure the best possible experience for the athletes, the IAAF Family, the media and spectators.”
Carol Anthony, Chair, Welsh Athletics, said:
“We are absolutely delighted that we have been successful in our bid to stage the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff in 2016. Our Major Events strategy for staging high profile athletics events in Wales has already resulted in us staging the Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships in North Wales in 2011, the World Trail Championships this year and preparations are already being made to stage the World Mountain Championships in North Wales in 2015.
“The decision made today by the IAAF in Monaco to support our bid to stage the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff is fantastic news for Welsh Athletics, for the capital city and for the whole of Wales”
Steve Jones, former marathon and half marathon world record holder said:
“Having seen the Cardiff Half Marathon first hand over the last two years, I am excited to see what the world’s best athletes will able to produce on such a flat and fast course.
“This race will be a real treat for the tens of thousands of knowledgeable sports fans who live in Cardiff and the many more throughout Wales who I am sure will flock to see that promises to be a spectacular event.”
Steve Brace, double Olympic marathon runner and course director said:
“The new course we devised in 2012 has certainly captured the imagination of runners of all standards.
“Feedback from has been incredible and we believe a sub-60 minute winning time is possible under the right conditions and with the right will from the athletes.
“The fact that the IAAF now allows runners of all abilities to join in the World Championship race makes it a hugely appealing race to the running community.”
Laura McAllister, Chair, Sport Wales:
“We would like to offer our congratulations to all those involved in bringing this flagship event to Wales and to Cardiff.
“When the world’s best distance runners descend on our capital in 2016, they will be welcomed by a nation that is defined by sport.
“As with all world class sporting events, it needs to serve as a catalyst for children to not just watch from the sidelines but to be inspired and get involved.”