The second edition of the Llanelli Half Marathon (Sunday 18th February) since Front Runner Events took over the race was an overwhelming success with a record number of runners taking on the 13.1 mile sold out race.
As one of those runners, who’s certainly no threat to the elite field, I stayed out on the course long enough to offer a full review! Regardless of our running prowess, we all have days where things just don’t go our way. Yet, despite my legs having their own ideas about how the event would go, it is still a highlight of my running event’s list and a race I will definitely add to the 2019 diary.
Before the race begins, trust has been built with the organising team as the pre-event information, updates and regular contact leaves nothing to chance. Parking was easy, free of charge and right next to the impressive Parc Y Scarlets Stadium. There’s the obligatory pre-race toilet queue fun, which as is customary, leads to conversations about lack of training, feeling unprepared and just wanting to finish, while jumping up and down on the spot because of the cold and the fact we’re all in the queue for a reason.
Ushered into the starting pen, the white numbered athletes were at the front while my fellow blue numbered athletes and I were at the back. ‘I’ve never been called an athlete before’ joked the guy next to me who said he had signed up over the New Year, thinking he’d use this as a reason to get fit. We wished each other good luck as the race began, right on time.
It’s a ‘fast, flat course.’ I can’t deny that it’s flat, especially in Welsh running terms, but I suppose ‘fast’ is relative! It was definitely ‘fast’ for some. I was running with a woman who was telling me her story and why she was running for a specific charity as we saw cyclists coming towards us on the path. ‘Keep to the left, please. The front-runners are coming.’ We had just reached the four-mile marker. We looked at each other, sharing a moment of mixed emotions. It’s inspiring to see such incredible runners sprint past, while also wondering how we’re all part of the same species.
Along the route, there were regular water and gel stops, there were even members of the public handing out Jelly Babies and a woman stood cheering from her front door who offered me a cuppa! With closed roads, race pacers, a goody bag, a beautiful t-shirt and a gold medal for all finishers, what’s not to love?!
Running along the coastal path is beautiful. The sea air and the sound of nature is the perfect backdrop to any run. The good folk of Llanelli added to the inspiring and motivational soundtrack with non-stop cheering and support. Honestly, the Race Makers were phenomenal. As it is an out-and-back course, I wondered if there would still be people around as I made my way back from the turnaround point. Not only were they still around, they were louder than they had been the first time I had passed them. This support and encouragement for each and every competitor is what makes running such an inclusive sport. As my body failed me and my mind was beginning to do the same, the Race Makers were having none of it! They are perfectly positioned along the route to ensure that just as you start to doubt your ability, there’s someone else ready to cheer you on, tell you to keep going and in one case, play ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ through a megaphone. Thank you to all of the Race Makers, you really did make it an awesome event.
If you’re already thinking about the 2019 races you’d like to enter, you can check out the Llanelli Half Marathon registration details here. We highly recommend it!
Words: Marie Yates / Picture: Llanelli Half Marathon