It’s been confirmed that two male competitors died from apparent cardiac arrest on the finishing line of today’s Cardiff Half Marathon.
The race had begun at 10:00 at the start line at Cardiff Castle and 16 minutes later the front runners reached Penarth – heading downhill into the Marina, across the Barrage and heading back to Cardfiff
Several roads were closed in the Penarth Marina area during the morning.
About two and a half hours after the leading runners had passed through Penarth – and the main body of competitors was reaching the finishing line – the Welsh Ambulance Service reported they had received a call at 12.15 of two runners both of whom had suffered cardiac arrests at the finish line.
One of the men was 25 years old and the other 32. Run 4 Wales Chief Executive Matt Newman said: “This is a terrible tragedy for the families. Our deepest sympathies go out to their family and friends. The emergency services reacted to this terrible situation with great speed and professionalism. Everyone connected with the race is devastated They unfortunately become the first fatalities in the 15 year history of the race.
More than 20,000 runners had submitted entries for the race which has been an annual event for the last 15 years .
For the third time a choir of local schoolchildren of the JP School of Song sang their hearts out as the competitors came past the Tesco supermarket .
The choir – run by Penarth primary school teacher James Patrick – is a mixture of children from various local schools and rehearse both at St Cadocs Church Hall in Cardiff and St Joseph’s Church Penarth.
This year the retinue of official tv camera motorbikes being ridden immediately in front of the runners was augmented by a tribe of “health and safety” scarlet-clad cyclists.
In the lead through Penarth Marina were Ugandan runners Toriotich and Kwemoi with Lotiano of Kenya and Australian runner Jack Rayner keeping station with them .
The race was being covered live on tv by from the air and by outside broadcast units
There followed the usual groups of semi professional and club athletes and finally the hundreds of charity runners and keep fit enthusiasts whose participation in the race normally makes it a colourful event for spectators. At this stage no one could have anticipated the tragic turn of events which was to occur just two hours later.
First to reach the finish line was Australia’s Jack Rayner who completed the course in a time of 1 hour 0 minutes and 59 seconds. Uganda’s Juliet Chekwel won the women’s race in 1 hour 9 minutes and 45 seconds.
News of the deaths of the two runners at the finish line did not emerge until Sunday evening . Next of kin have been informed and further information is awaited from the race organisers.