Ambitious plans for the JCP Swansea Half Marathon could see the rapidly growing race upgraded to international status by 2017.
A third staging of Wales’ second biggest half marathon takes place on June 26, 2016 with organisers anticipating a record field of 8,000 runners, attracted by a scenic, flat course and promise of fast times. And a first ever five figure entry list will be the goal should future negotiations with athletics’ world governing body, the International Association of Athletics’ Federation, prove successful.
David Martin-Jewell, who shares directorship with Nick Francis, confirmed: “Our goal is to see the JCP Swansea Half Marathon become an IAAF accredited race. We are aiming to reach bronze level and are putting every effort into achieving it. We are laying foundations in preparation and implementing procedures to help attain this world-renowned status.
“Should we achieve accreditation then there is no reason why the race won’t grow and grow. We have identified what the requirements are and we are working through them. Obviously, we need everything to fall into place in 2016, but there is nothing to say it couldn’t happen for 2017. We believe that it is a realistic target for us, but it is out of our hands in terms of time scale once we have submitted our application.”
Francis adds: “From a runners’ perspective, we want to develop a race that is value for money, one they enjoy and makes them want to come back year after year. The course is sensational; you run along a six-mile stretch of Swansea Bay. Everyone mentions the views with some even comparing it to the most scenic race destinations across the World. We want to give the runners the best experience possible.
“By achieving IAAF accreditation it would mean the race becomes better, not only for the guys at the front but for everybody that lines up on the start line.”
As part of the IAAF bid, the JCP Swansea Half Marathon is now affiliated to the Association of International Marathons and Distance races. Both Martin-Jewell and Francis also recognise an IAAF standard means securing a top class field to go with its elite status.
“We are looking to work with a third party to help sign up some elite runners if necessary,” says Martin-Jewell.
“If the growth for the elite field comes from the UK and Europe we would be satisfied with that, but we also have to keep one eye on the IAAF requirements. However, our goal is to have at least four internationally recognised runners that could come from any of the home nations, Europe, or further afield, providing they fulfil the IAAF criteria is what’s important. Obtaining IAAF accreditation will help us achieve our goal for our race which is at the top of our agenda.”
Such a move would be a welcome challenge for Welsh runners. Matthew Wells of Bridgend AC clocked 1 hr 14 mins 38 seconds to win the inaugural JCP Swansea Half in 2014. Last June, Dewi Griffiths of Team GB and Swansea Harriers smashed Wells’ course record with a time of 1:06:48 while Lliswerry Runners’ Emma Wookey took the women’s prize in 1:17.51.
They were part of a sell-out, 5,000 strong field made up from 25 countries. A wheelchair race was incorporated for the first time in 2015 while 2016 will see the introduction of two waves of runners to help cope with the extra demand for places.
The JCP Swansea Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 26th June 2016 on fully closed roads and is quickly becoming a firm favourite amongst the running community. The flat fast course is perfect for beginners, first time half marathon runners and charity runners, whilst attracting a large elite field from Wales and beyond to #RunSwansea.
The race is also a finalist at The Running Awards for the second year in a row.
Starting and finishing in the city centre, the route takes runners along Swansea Bay to The Mumbles and back, featuring six miles of stunning coastline, beautiful views and fantastic crowd support. A total of 8,000 public and charity places are available for 2016 and entry is open now.