Organisers hopeful that Mo Farah and Zersenay Tadese will be among those competing for the world title in the Welsh capital next year

The official launch of the Cardiff 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships took place in the Welsh capital on Wednesday ahead of the event returning to the UK for the fourth time on March 26 next year.

The launch saw the opening of a pre-registration period for runners who hope to fill one of the 25,000 spaces for the mass participation half marathon which will take place at the same time and on the same course as the World Half Marathon Championships races.

Billed as the chance to “rub shoulders” with the likes of double Olympic, world and European track champion Mo Farah and five-time world half marathon champion Zersenay Tadese, places for the mass participation event are expected to sell out fast, with the 30,000 spots for the mass event at the last World Half Marathon Championships held in Copenhagen in 2014 being filled within days.

With the event over a year away, the participation of Farah and Tadese isn’t confirmed, though organisers are hopeful that the pair will be among those competing for the world title on the streets of Cardiff next spring.

Farah is set to return to the roads next month at the Lisbon Half Marathon, racing his sixth half-marathon on the course where Tadese set the world record of 58:23 in 2010. Next year’s World Half Marathon Championships could form part of Farah’s build up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“A lot of hard work has already gone in since we won the right to host the championships back in November 2013,” said race director Steve Brace, a two-time Olympian and former winner of the Berlin and Paris Marathons.

“We are confident Cardiff will hit the very high standards of previous years for this prestigious event and we are delighted to be able to offer runners the unique opportunity to run alongside elite athletes competing in a major championship.”

He added: “After the success of the Copenhagen in 2014 we are expecting a lot of interest from runners in Wales, the rest of the UK and right across Europe and the world.

“We have a fantastic running course which is renowned for being flat, fast and iconic. This will be a truly special event that will enhance Wales’ credentials as one of the best major-events cities in Europe.”

Cardiff 2016 will be the biggest athletics event to be held in Wales since the Commonwealth Games in 1958. It will be the fourth time that the World Half Marathon Championships will have been staged in the UK, with previous editions held as part of the Great North Run in 1992, in Bristol in 2001 and Birmingham in 2009.

Entry fees for the mass participation 13.1-mile event are set to start at £49. Those that pre-register their interest for a place at www.cardiff2016.co.uk will have the first opportunity to apply for a race number when entry officially opens on March 26 – exactly a year ahead of race day.

» See www.cardiff2016.co.uk