Race Report: Cardiff Race for Victory 5k

(c) Image by Paul Stillman.

Some races you sign up for because the challenge means so much to you. Others end up on your list because you shrug your shoulders and say, "Why not?"

Race for Victory fell in the latter category. One day a friend told me about the race and that evening I entered online. The street party afterwards appealed to me and, seeing as one of my goals this year is to work on my 5k distance, I figured it was an opportunity to see how I fared.

I quickly learned the race has a great reputation. It takes place in the evening in Whitchurch, north Cardiff, a pretty village district with its own little high street full of cute shops and cafes, tree-lined streets and lots of green space.

It's a thriving community and embraces the race through its streets, starting and finishing in the middle of Merthyr Road, which remains closed for the rest of the night so runners can enjoy live music and a street party atmosphere.  

All the shops and local businesses get involved, from post-run drinks deals, to offering toilet access to everyone (seriously, more events should do this), to the local Co-Op store supplying carrier bags for runners' goodies.

Getting things ready on Merthyr Road. (c) Image by Paul Stillman.

Being a local run, there was a huge group of us from CDF Runners. We arranged to meet in front of the church for a pre-race photo at 6.30pm and I was ridiculously excited that BBC weather presenters Sue Charles and Derek Brockway had agreed to come along for the group photo. The duo were the celebrity front for the race and I love them for being the Nicest People On TV Ever.  A planned photo with them made my day.

Except, they didn't show up and we did the photo without them. A group of us then went off for our ritual queue for the loos and, while waiting in line, saw a tweet appear of the CDF Runners posing for a photo... with Derek and Sue. They'd obviously arrived late and pre-race pee paranoia meant some of us had missed them. I was beyond gutted. This was not a good start.

Pre-celebrity group photo

I pushed my silly disappointment to one side and focused on the buzz of the crowd, the live music and chatting to cheerful runners. It really was a great atmosphere. The street was lined with runners and spectators, but they'd controlled the entry numbers so it didn't feel overwhelming. It kept hold of its leafy suburban charm.

The race itself was nice. Residents came out of their homes to cheer and it was really cute seeing small kids clapping and waving in their pajamas, ready for bed.

Being a 5k, it was all over pretty quickly. I sprinted hard at the end and found myself neck-and-neck with a guy, both of us determined to cross the line first. It was a fun finish and we hugged on the other side (I think he beat me by a fraction of a second!).

Now for the street party! Except... it was raining and getting harder. By the time I'd queued for a hot dog and got under a marquee I was soaked to the bone and freezing cold. I'm not one to be bothered by rain normally but, when you're standing still and shivering after a race, getting warm and dry suddenly becomes your number one priority.

So, alas, the party was cut short, for me at least, but I still enjoyed the event. Next year, fingers crossed, Derek and Sue will promise some sunshine and another photo.

Do something about the weather, Derek! Image from Alchetron.

Not-so-much love for:
The rain (boo!).
Missing Sue and Derek (boo!).
No medal for this one (my favourite race souvenir).
Burnt sausages.

But I did love:
The small but buzzing atmosphere in a pretty district of Cardiff.
The effort the organisers and volunteers had gone to for a friendly and fun community event.
I got a t-shirt that, for once, actually fits me.
The cheering spectators.
The decent number of toilets.
It was all in aid of a Welsh charity.
The event felt very inclusive for runners of all abilities. 

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