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Carl completes Half Marathon

Llanelli Half Marathon: Carl with fellow runners.

FOR me the Llanelli Half Marathon, now in its 10th year, has a special place in my heart. It was the first race I did three years ago, after being challenged to run the Snowdonia Marathon. Since then it’s the first on my race list every year.

Set annually in early March, the weather is always a little challenging and this year was no different. The wind was strong and the rain might even have made Gene Kelly think twice about going out. But on the start line, the almost 2000 strong participants didn’t seem to care.

One of the great things about running and in particular the Llanelli Half Marathon is that it brings together all abilities and levels. Each runner has their own reason for being there. Whether that be running in memory of someone, running for a charity or simply running to keep fit. What we all have in common though, is we all love the ‘bling’. And having now run many races across the UK, the Lanelli Half Marathon has one of the best medals.

Joining me this year was my race buddy Mark Whitby, a seasoned pro who seems to race as much as I have hot dinners, friend and former colleague James Southon from Radio Pembrokeshire who is training for his first Marathon in April and Sue Whitby, Mark’s wife who is new to the sport.

The relatively flat race, starting at the Parc Y Scarlets, is well organised and takes in some magnificent views along the Llanelli coastline. At the sound of the air-horn, we set off on the 13.1 mile run, heading down the A484 to Bynea, then along the Millenium Coastal Path to New Dock before turning round and heading back to the Parc Y Scarlets.

Spectators and event officials lined parts of the course to give you that much needed encouragement as the rained lashed down, helping to make my running kit look more like a wet suit.

The biggest excitement for me comes with just over a mile to go, as you start to come off the Millenium Coastal Path and start hear the noise of the finish line. The announcer’s voice, faint at first, getting louder with every stride. Then comes the moment, the finish line is in sight and you look for that last push and that final sprint finish for the camera’s and souvenir picture.

This year the race was won by Bristol runner Angus Maclean, who completed the course in a record one hour, 11 minutes and 48 seconds. I was a little slower than that and crossed the line in one hour, 50 minutes and 51 seconds.