Cardiff Half Marathon

35 - 50 €












  • Beautiful city


  • Not well connected with airport
  • Low in sustainability
  • Course not too entertaining
  • Minimal Expo
  • Minimal race pack
Year of 1st edition:2003
World Athletics Label Road Race:Yes
Expected participants:27500
Distances:21K, kids run
Type of race:city run
Time limit:4h 30min

I decided to run the Cardiff half marathon about two years ago. Then, Covid-19 changed our world and the freedom of travelling, running all together or even meeting became something not granted. After few postponements, the date for my second half marathon in UK, first in Wales, was finally come. It was a bittersweet experience, that left me partly satisfied. In the next sections, I will tell you why.

The booking process

I found the website a bit chaotic. More graphically than in the structure: at the end you will find the info you need. There are different way to enter the race: as UK runner, international. There is a cap, over that is possible to enter if supporting a charity. There is a clear and complete FAQ section to support your decision making process. In case of any doubt, dropping an Email is an option: the organization has been very kind and ready to help, during the rebookings due to the pandemic. I got answers to all questions I had, and in due time. It was easy to get the booking done in a good number of clicks.

The organization

Everything before the trip was easy. Locals get the race pack mailed at home, while international runners are informed how to deal with the pick up process in due time. Info regarding weather, strikes and other relevant news are delivered before the race. The Event Village was set in the City Hall lawns, very close to start and arrival and to the train station.

Since most of UK runners received already the pack, the village is desert the day before the race, and most of stands open only on race day. This is not really A junior race is very well organized on Saturday for the kids, giving them joy and getting close to a great sport. It is the only spark in an otherwise flat first day of the expo.

On race day, I recommend to get early (1h before or so) to avoid the huge queue for the baggage drop: arriving 40 minutes before was not enough to avoid reaching the starting corrals just in time. Which means actually, quite behind where I wanted to be. There are pacers, in the 2022 edition covering the following times: 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15, 2:30, 2:45 and 3:00.  


The Event Village in Cardiff

I think the race pack needs big improvement. It is literally just an envelope with the bib number and a guide (very nice, but let’s save some trees and go digital next time!). You will get a t-shirt and the medal, provided that you finish of course!  

The course

 The course takes runners past the Wales capital’s most iconic landmarks with beautiful scenery and historic buildings. The predominately flat and fast course makes includes some challenging uphills, as described better below.

Thousands of runners ready to start!

The race starts outside Cardiff Castle and runners then head down past the Principality and Cardiff City Stadiums on the way to Penarth. They take in the glorious Penarth Marina before crossing the barrage and heading to Cardiff Bay. Runners run right through the heart of the bay taking in the Norwegian Church and Wales Millennium Centre.

The course then heads towards the north of the city and runners will complete a loop of the beautiful Roath Park Lake before the grandstand finish in the heart of the city at the Civic Centre.

A moment of the race

From a technical point of view, it has many flat parts, with up-down traits that can be challenging, expecially around the 5th and 20th km. It is not nice to find a steep uphill part, when you are only less than one mile from the end!
Speaking of end, fine post race, back to the event village, where finally there is some life (and music!). Medal, banana and few more things, and ready to go. Not outstanding, but neither disappointing.
Personal impressions
I was very lucky with the weather conditions. The forecasts were very consistent until one night before when magically it turned from rain to mildly cloudy. Fantastic! 
I found the race lacking of something: most of it was crossing very “anonymous” (hope the residents there will forgive me) area: nice, but they could have been anywhere in the world. Lack of support, not from the few amazing people standing by the street and cheering (most of the race was outside the city center, so lower participation). Bands, music, colors… this was missing. And we all know how that can make a difference!
But my biggest disappointment is in the lack of sustainability. Big bottles handed over and trown away half used. Especially the energy drink, handed in bottles (I haven’t checked) of about 3/4 of a liter. The result: waste of product and plastic.
Please, please, please! Use recyclable glasses and half fill them with liquid. You will save a lot of bottles, resulting in an economic advantage and less waste. A win-win!

Cardiff Half Marathon has been an interesting experience, but the kindness of the volunteers, the beauty of some of the course don’t balance the lack of emotion and that sense of missing something I had in this race. 

I will come back to Wales, but I am not sure I will run this event again. After all, there are so many other races in the world 🙂 

Did you like this review of Cardiff Half Marathon? Please contact me for any question or if you find info to be rectified!

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