FIRST held on the old cinder track at Jenner Park in 1986, this weekend's Barry 40 Miles track race has again attracted a fascinating cross section of runners.
The iconic ultradistance running event has seen 59 world best performances in its 28-year history.
At the sharp end, one should look no further than last year’s decisive winner, Pieter Vermeesch. The four-times Belgian ultradistance champion, who is based in Welwyn Garden City, ran an incredibly even-paced 4:08:59 last year, and has ambitions to be the first man at Barry to break the four-hour barrier since 1999. He may, however, still face a tough test from 2012 champion Grant Jeans, from Glasgow, who was forced to retire with a back injury 12 months ago.
Four of the 22 entries are from ladies, and it's possible to make a case for any one of them to win. Jen Salter, Angela Champion and Loretta Daley compete for the promoting club, Cardiff-based Les Croupiers, whilst Jayne Angilley travels from Redruth in Cornwall.
For the first time in the history of the race, three of the entries are from Hungarian-born athletes living in the UK - Tamas Szikszay, Zoltan Lesi and Andras Kulcsar who are all experienced 24-hour performers. Another interesting development has been the entries of two well-known Welsh actors. Richard Harrington ('Hinterland') and Mark Lewis Jones ('55 Degrees North') are both using the race as part of their build-up for Marathon des Sables in April.
As ever, the 22 athletes will have 22 very different race goals and it should be a fascinating event to watch. The start time is 10am on Sunday, March 9, and involves 161 circuits of the track. Admission is free.