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Cardiff Half Marathon 2019: The'Diff with a Difference

The night before the Cardiff Half Marathon, I toss and turn and have so many hot flushes I wonder if I’m going to self-combust. It’s not the best preparation for a race, but, hey, I’m fortunate to be here and I’m determined to enjoy the day. For the first time in the event’s 16-year history, female runners are in the majority and the starting pen definitely has a different feel. I talk to Stephanie and Clare, two mums who, like so many of the women taking part, juggle running with family responsibilities. Every runner has a story.

My dear friend and running buddy, Helen, has defied the odds and overcome her dreadful injury to take part today. I know she’s somewhere amongst the runners and suddenly the crowds part and I see her smiling face. Frustratingly, I lose her again, but then she’s there by my side just in time for the race to begin. We hug, (lots of ‘“awwws” from the women around us!) wish each other luck and then we’re off!

This year, I know my granddaughter, Bee, who wants to see Nana ‘win the race’ (sorry Bee, I couldn’t quite make it past Lucy Cheruiyot) will be waiting at the Senedd building with Lily, Tom and my cousin Ray and his wife, Alison. The first six miles fly by and my heart lifts when I look ahead and catch sight of my family smiling and cheering me on… the only trouble is that it’s a bit of a letdown when I have to leave them behind knowing that I’ve still got another 7 miles to go!

Just after mile 9, something strange happens and my right leg gives away. I’ve had a few hamstring niggles over the last week, but now it’s decided to make its presence felt. For the first time ever, I wonder if I’m going to have to withdraw from a race. I stumble along feeling tearful and sorry for myself when someone in the crowd yells my name and there’s Ruth, Lily’s very dear friend, who gives me the best hug ever and the encouragement I need to go on. I’m not in acute pain so if I walk a bit and run a bit, I’ll probably manage to finish the race. My hope of achieving a good time is lost, but in its place something rather wonderful happens. Instead of looking at my watch, I hear voices in the crowd; the lovely spectators who line the route keep me going every step of the last few miles with words of encouragement, pats on the back, cheers and applause. It’s a truly amazing experience and I’m taken aback once again by the kindness of strangers.

It may not have been the ‘Diff I planned to run, but it’s a ‘Diff, I’ll always remember.

PS. Congratulations to Helen who stormed home!

And finally. 
My thoughts go out to the family of Nicholas Beckley who died after taking part in the event.


Clare Chase said…
Well done, Chris - what a triumph against the odds. I do hope your injury's better soon. xx
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks so much, Clare. It was a very different kind of race but it's certainly one that will stay with me. The injury can go as soon as it likes though! xx

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