Popping my Runversation Chery

By Samantha Haines, Run Buddy

Today I popped my runversation cherry. For those unfamiliar with the phrase it’s simply a run whilst having a conversation.

Clearly there are some safety points to be made at the start so I’ll get those out the way first. If you’re using headphones make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, both in terms of other people around you but also traffic, so you’re not putting yourself and others at risk. I know that’s obvious but it would be remiss not to point it out.

Ear buds firmly clamped down by my buff

As we can’t meet to run in person, our running group and lots of others around the UK I’m sure, are finding innovative ways to keep in touch whilst out and about running.

I was quite nervous about my first runversation. Not because of who I was having it with (Gruby is lovely) but more the logistics. My ears don’t seem to like ear buds, they never stay in for long when I’m still let alone moving. Plus I was worried I’d sound like I was heavy breathing down the phone and no one wants that!

I sorted myself out with a very fetching set up. Ear buds in ears held down tight by a buff so they couldn’t move. I tested it out on a walk with another friend, Ann, on Friday and it seemed to do the trick.

After my first runversation I can honestly say I’m a convert. It was so nice to get to know Gruby a little better and chat to someone whilst I was running. I hadn’t realised that I’d missed the company of running with others as I’m quite happy in my own little world when I run.

What’s great about having a runversation is that you can run your own route at your own pace and still feel like you’re running with company. Gruby and I ran in totally different directions and at totally different paces but it made no difference to feeling connected.

That feeling of being connected is so important right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re chatting about the weather, family life, home schooling or politics, it’s whatever works for that moment in time. We’re often, for good reason and the right reasons given the current covid climate, stuck in our little bubbles not seeing people socially. Today has shown me we can still be connected with others in a way that I wouldn’t have thought of before. Clearly I speak to people on the phone and via video chats, I’d have just never done it whilst out running.

Also if you’re worried about the heavy breathing issue or random pauses and that’s what’s putting you off trying to have a runversation it’s not something I even thought about whilst I was out. Pauses naturally happen in conversations or when one of you is crossing the road and they didn’t make it awkward at all. Neither does saying hello to others who aren’t part of the conversation as you pass.

It turns out the whether you’re running physically together or connected on the phone that feeling of going for a run with someone is still the same when you’re having a runversation.

She Runs: The Year – a 2020 Look-back

by Coleen Manuel

As this year draws to a close the general feeling is that people can’t wait to see the back of 2020, and aren’t seeing it as a particular source of good memories.  Like everyone else, the committee and Run Buddies of She Runs: Cardiff are looking ahead to a hopefully better year in 2021, and with this in mind, is it right to look back?  The answer can only be yes, as to not to look back at our memories and achievements this year would be doing a disservice to the community we have built and the experiences we have shared as a group.

In January 2020 we were excited about the year to come, anticipating we would have new members looking to make a new year commitment to fitness, and we were eager to provide them with a welcoming atmosphere and promote our ethos of getting out there, getting time for yourself and not worrying about speed or distance.  Party at the back was ready and waiting for our existing members and new recruits if they needed it, and we were also aware of women wanting a greater challenge so we launched our new 10K social run route to an enthusiastic response.  

On 5th January 2020 we had 55 runners turn up on a cold Sunday morning, and Coffee #1 no doubt stocked up on extra teacakes (and Marmite!) after the popular post-run gathering.  In total we had 344 runners over the January social runs, and also over 40 women signed up for the Buff 10K race in the Afan Valley.  This was the first trail race for many and the day felt like everything SR:C is all about; tips and encouragement shared prior to the run, lift-shares organised, a photo meeting point beforehand and cake all round afterwards.  We were hoping this would be the first of many race meet-ups for the year.

The February social runs continued to be busy as word about our relaxed atmosphere and pledge to leave no one behind, or without someone to chat to along the way, spread.  However, the elements were against us after managing to continue through icy weather (your dedicated run buddies even meeting at 6am one morning to check for ice before confirming the Sunday run would go ahead!), when Storm Ciara, followed by Storm Dennis hit, and we had to cancel our group runs for the first time.  Meanwhile in the news, talk of a certain virus was growing but our minds were firmly on our cores, when a plank challenge introduced by Run Buddy Tanya got everyone involved from their own homes, where partners, flat-mates and family members were no doubt bemused; ‘but why do you have to do another plank?’ ‘Because my friends on the internet are doing it!’  

Despite the weather conditions being against us, we did have an exciting development in February – the launch of our very own run club kit! Orders flew out and Cardiff started to turn purple.  We loved the reception from our members, many saying they felt like part of a very special team.

So many of our members embraced the plank monthly challenge that it lit the spark for more.  In March we took on squats, mountain climbers and crunches, in some cases all three, and suddenly we were missing the plank challenge – at least that one had rest days! 

In early March we were still able to meet as a group, and this gave us the chance for a triumphant volunteer takeover at Tremorfa parkrun just in time for International Women’s Day. We had enough volunteers to cover every parkrun role, as well as some from the group running and completing their very first parkrun, and the atmosphere was fantastic with runners heard to ask if the SR:C ladies could come back every week.

But then of course, lockdown.  At which point we could have seen the engagement we’d worked so hard to create fizzle away. After all, who ever heard of a running club where you can’t run together?  I can say with pride that we not only kept going, we built on a strong foundation to become something incredibly special and something credited with helping many of our members (this author included) cope with lockdown and all the other uncertainties of life this year.  We started mental health check-ins where women felt they had a safe place to discuss their fears and frustrations, and in April we launched a self-care challenge to remind everyone of the importance of looking after themselves more than ever as work and family pressures mounted.  We still wanted to go outside though, with daily exercise time being incredibly valued, so the virtual SR:C baton was created and enjoyed trips not only around all corners of Cardiff but even crossing the border to England meaning members far and wide could join in.

Our Run Buddy Cathryn also launched book club via Zoom meetings in April.  This has gone from strength to strength with interesting discussions and motivational appearances from many of the authors, including Lowri Morgan and Lisa Jackson, who were incredibly open and happy to answer our questions.  We’d encourage anyone who has considered attending a book club to please give it a try next year, you don’t have to speak if you don’t want to, but the general consensus is that everyone comes away feeling inspired and connected in a new way.

With protecting mental health on everyone’s mind, it seemed apt to use Miles for Mind as our May challenge.  We pledged 2950 team miles, but actually ran over 3,600 and it was amazing to see our members’ confidence grow as they signed up for individual distance targets, either to challenge themselves, or just to keep themselves active.  Run Buddy Dani treated us to the creation of the She Runs Spotify playlist this month, and there’s not many of us left who haven’t had the Trolls song as an earworm as a result! 

It was clear by this point that the SR:C community loved a challenge, and this was proven further by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to our first bingo board launch in June.  As ever with an SR:C challenge, it goes beyond what is on the official board, when the craze for what will always be known as the Rosie jump appeared time and time again in our post-run pictures.

It was also in June that we well and truly turned Cardiff purple, the day of our inaugural relay, where 116 women ran in half hour stints between 7am and 9.30pm.  WhatsApp buzzed with chat across the 4 teams and donations for our chosen charity, Cardiff Women’s Aid, came pouring in.  For many, the relay was the first type of race experienced they had ever taken part in, and the constant refrain since June was ‘can we do another one please?’ before our super co-ordinator Myfanwy treated us to a Christmas version.

In July we launched the official SR:C website, and turned our attention to another distance challenge, again as a team where we pledged to help the larger Team West run around the world in the Run Things challenge.  Over 100 members signed up for the SR:C team and we ran 13,037km in total, with our competitive streak rising to the surface to desperately win back the number 2 spot, towards the end of the month no one was free to pop out for some milk without turning Strava on first!  To inspire us along the way we posted updates of different countries relating to how much distance we’d covered, this led to lots of members sharing their travel experiences, and in a time where travel was restricted this could have been depressing, but was, as ever with SR:C, uplifting.

With staycation becoming the buzz word for 2020, our August challenge fit perfectly, where we challenged members to run ‘Around the ‘Diff in 30 days’.  It was a joy to see women discovering new parts of our fabulous city, with some running further than ever before in pursuit of one or more of the locations.

For September we focused a step challenge; Steptember was just too good a pun to miss, and it was again a challenge that was open to all, and particularly helped some of those working from home to get some much needed time out of the house.   This was also the month when our Run Buddy Sharon was recognised by Welsh Athletics as a leading lady for her innovative virtual Couch to 5K programme.

Excitement was mounting for our first birthday in October with many keen to know how we would celebrate, and celebrate we certainly did.  Although we may have had to be socially distant, we would never let that stop us marking the occasion, with a week-long itinerary of runs, challenges, selfies, coffee and cake over Zoom, and even giving some essential advice to check our boobs in line with breast cancer awareness week.  Our birthday was commemorated with our very own SR:C medal, designed by Dani, which was open to everyone to choose their own personal challenge.  We loved hearing about everyone’s goals, with a great variety of challenges set, from personal best runs, to press-ups, from self-care to healthy eating, and it was the best Medal Monday all year to see so many members displaying them with pride.  As Tanya so aptly put it ‘we didn’t survive in October, we thrived.’  

Face to face Couch to 5K sessions with Sharon also started, where her members have shown great determination, despite constantly changing lockdown restrictions, and have built amazing friendships despite a 40 minute cut-off on their weekly Zoom calls! 

We continued to thrive in November with the return of bingo, thoughtfully co-ordinated by Run Buddy AJ to again include self-care but also to encourage us to try something new with a whole range of dance classes, and to consider paying it forward with an act of kindness.  We were also able to launch some new merchandise this month meaning Cardiff sightings of SR:C luminous yellow along with purple are now becoming common, keeping us warm and safe through the winter months.

If the Christmas leggings are anything to go by, December has been going on for quite some time, but reliable sources tell me it has only been a month as per usual.  But what a month, where we’ve enjoyed playing Scrabble organised by our own Run Buddy the Elf, Elaine, and shared our Christmas traditions while staying active, (who knew so many of you were on the Naughty list?!).  Not content with just one December challenge, we’ve also taken part in the Run Up to Christmas challenge, where we smashed our 250km team total on the very first day, and have raised over £1,000 for MIND.

We’ve also held another highly successful relay.  This time we had 10 teams running and even with a lockdown announced just hours before, as ever our community adapted and rose to the challenge. The runs were completed within all guidelines while still raising smiles and festive spirit (even those who ran through hailstorms!), and collecting £2,700 in donations for the Cardiff charity, the Huggard Centre who provide support for the homeless.

As this summary of the year draws to a close, there can be no better way to finish it, than with the achievement we would never have dreamed of when we sat around a pub table discussing ideas for an inclusive women’s running group – the news in December that She Runs: Cardiff have been named the Run Wales group of the year by Welsh Athletics.

This award is for all of us; the original women with the idea, the Run Buddies, the members who post every week, the ones who wear our kit, the people who don’t want to post but will always give a Facebook Like, or send a private message to someone who is struggling, and for all those who read and feel inspired by the SR:C message to get out there.  2021 may be uncertain but I think we can all say with confidence that our community will be a constant.  After all, who would even know what day it is between Christmas and New Year if we didn’t have Run Buddies Kate and Rhian to reliably inform us it is virtual run club day so therefore it must be Sunday or Wednesday?  If only we could all remember what races we’ve signed up for that have been postponed until 2021….

With the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out there has been talk about the light at the end of the tunnel, but if this is the case then surely for many SR:C has been the beacon which has been with us through the darkness.

Right then, that’s enough reminiscing.  Time to put on the Christmas leggings for one last time this year, add some purple kit, optimistically hunt out the Goodr sunglasses, fire up the play-list and head out there. Perhaps I’ll try some Strava art, or take a selfie by a post-box, spell my name with some street signs, and finish with a Rosie jump, followed by some cake of course! 

Happy New Year everyone!

She Runs Cardiff book club with Lisa Jackson, author of Your Pace Or Mine?

by Cathryn Scott, @cardiffmummy

Author Lisa Jackson is a huge inspiration to many of us in She Runs Cardiff. Her book Your Pace Or Mine? What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last is often mentioned by members of our Facebook group as one of the best running books they’ve read, helping them to change their mindset towards running and achieve more than they ever thought possible.

With so many fans of Lisa already in our group, we were keen to discuss Your Pace Or Mine in the She Runs Cardiff book club. Even better was the news that Lisa herself was able to join us via Zoom when we held our sixth online book club meeting earlier this month.

Your Pace Or Mine? was first published in 2016, the follow-up to Lisa’s best-selling book on running, Running Made Easy.

Written in a chatty and informal style, Lisa’s own running journey is interspersed with stories and anecdotes from people she has met along the way. Each chapter offers a different perspective on what Lisa has learned from running, such as what it’s taught her about taking the first step, never giving up, laughing, dreaming big, and even death.

What makes Lisa’s book so inspiring and uplifting is that she’s the first to admit she finds running hard. “It’s always been a bit of a struggle,” she writes in the book’s opening pages. “But it’s precisely because I’m the least likeliest runner you’ll ever meet that running gives me such a thrill.”

Lisa has run more than 100 marathons – and has proudly come last in 25 of them. Pace isn’t important to her; the experience you have while running is. “Running isn’t about the time you do, but the time you have while doing it,” she writes. 

The book is laugh-out-loud funny at times – one particular episode where she tries out a weeing-while-running technique and ends up with soggy trainers really made me chuckle, as did some of her fancy dress exploits. As she writes, “When I let go of my ego and instead hugged my inner comedian, it gave me the courage to do things I’d never have imagined being brave enough to try.”

It’s also filled with raw emotion as Lisa talks about how running has helped her and others work through difficult times in their life, including grief following bereavement. “Running really is a sacred, joyous way of remembering the dead,” she writes. 

An energetic and enthusiastic Lisa joins us over Zoom. She’s wearing the flamingo hat she talks about so much in the book, and is delighted to see three of our members wearing their own flamingo hats in tribute to her. “I love your running group!” she tells us. “If I lived in Cardiff I’d definitely join and come running with you.”

Those in attendance have given the book a resounding thumbs up and are keen to know more about Lisa’s running and writing journeys. She explains the two have become very intertwined. 

“Running isn’t just running,” she tells us. “The mental training makes you a strong person who can do anything. Running gives you super powers in your every day life. The stamina you build up you can apply to everything.”

“Just knowing that if you can run a 50 mile ultra you can certainly sit and write 50,000 words,” she laughs. 

She says that running helped her develop the resilience needed to keep on putting herself out there. “Running Made Easy was the best-selling beginners’ running book for a decade. However,” she says, “before that 40 publishers all said no or didn’t say anything.

“There are parallels between running and writing. The more you put into it the more you get out of it. 

“The more you push outside your comfort zone, the less scary everything becomes. And a good challenge needs to scare you.”

In the book, Lisa quotes Christopher McDougall, “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other, but to be with each other.” She adds, “I truly believe that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. And that there’s great satisfaction to be gained by interacting with people, no matter how fleetingly.”

It’s unsurprising then that she tells us lockdown and social distancing has been tough for her. 

“I get so much energy from other people,” she tells us. “At races, it might be just a little smile, a thumbs up, a pat on the back, sometimes their whole life story. 

“People can touch your life. You may never see them again but kept in touch with lots and have become good friends. 

“Every runner has a story.”

Lisa has such a refreshing outlook on what success looks like for her. On paper, the London Marathon where she got a huge personal best time should have been a highlight for her. However, she tells us, “It was my least favourite race.”

She adds, “I didn’t talk to anyone. It was a wasted experience. I hadn’t had an experience. I don’t know if any of you run with headphones on but I hate people who run with headphones at races. Take them out and expose yourself to the possibilities of new friends and experiences.”

It’s hard to read Lisa’s book and not come away thinking “I could run a marathon” or “I could run an ultra” or “I could join the 100 Marathon Club” (made up of people who have run 100 marathons and of which Lisa is a member). Her enthusiasm is contagious and her experiences are a reminder that it really doesn’t matter if you finish last – or even if you don’t finish at all. “Running has given me the courage to fail,” she writes about the events she started but didn’t finish. “To begin the journey but to accept that it won’t always necessarily end in success.”

She tells us we need to own our own running journey and that’s why there’s a space at the end of the book for the reader to fill in their personal experiences. 

“You don’t need to sit around and wait for someone to tell you you’re a runner or to give you permission to run your first 10K, marathon or ultra,” she says. “You’ve got to give yourself permission. It should never be someone else.”

Although that said, one of our members, Beth, says it was Lisa’s book which helped give herself the confidence to call herself a runner. Beth’s now training for her first ultra-marathon. 

Lisa echoes our thoughts at She Runs Cardiff that the friendships made through running can be life-changing and adds that running is one of the few sports where amateurs can line up alongside world class professionals, and where you enter a race not knowing anyone but come away with a new best friend.

“No other sport gives normal people the chance to connect over the world in the same way as running,” she concludes. 

And tonight’s book club chat is proof of exactly that. We at She Runs Cardiff are very grateful to have connected with Lisa through our love of running and thank her giving her time to join us at our online She Runs Cardiff book club.

The She Runs Cardiff book club will be back in 2021. Keep an eye on our social media channels for more information.

9 of the most Inspirational Quotes from Anna McNuff’s “Pants of Perspective”

by Cathryn Scott

The She Runs Cardiff book club met online recently for our fifth meeting, this time discussing The Pants of Perspective by Anna McNuff.

Anna is an adventurer, motivational speaker and author – and a huge inspiration to many of our members who love following her on Instagram, listening to the interviews she’s done on podcasts such as RunPod, and reading her column in Women’s Running magazine.

Her book The Pants of Perspective – which charts her 3,000KM running adventure along New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail – was a natural choice for our book club.

Anna spent 148 days running along the trail, taking in forests, ridge lines, mountain passes, beaches and rivers, with much of this in the wilderness. She would run 30-40KM a day, although sometimes as much as 50KM, often wild camping along the way or staying in the specially-constructed huts along the trail. Anna travelled to New Zealand alone and although parts of her journey were incredibly lonely, the friendships she formed along the way, and the strangers who showed up to support her, or offered her a bed for the night, are a beautiful testament to human nature. Although Anna comes across as a naturally vibrant and positive person, she is also very honest about how tough it was and the mental struggles she dealt with, not to mention the physical injuries too. She writes vividly about what she witnesses and how she’s feeling – it’s very easy to feel like you’re there with her. 

Those present at the online book club were full of praise for The Pants of Perspective, with many of us saying it had inspired us to be braver and to think about taking on more challenging adventures. 

We loved that the title of the book came from a pair of brightly coloured leggings adorned with pictures of unicorns and robots, which Anna puts on when she’s at one of her lowest points. “It was scientifically impossible to be miserable whilst wearing these pants,” she says in Chapter 13. This lead to us discussing our own items of clothing which fill us with confidence when we wear them, from t-shirts from races we still can’t believe we completed, to hydration vests which make us feel invincible because we look like someone who can take on the long distances, and of course our purple SRC tops which make us feel like we have our tribe cheering us on, even when we’re running alone. 

Anna was unable to join us at book club but she did send us an exclusive video answering some of our questions – a huge thank you to Anna for taking the time to record this and for providing such detailed answers. You can watch it in the She Runs Cardiff Facebook group. 

The whole book is inspiring but certain passages really stood out to me and I found myself highlighting quite a few quotes along the way – here are some of my favourite words of wisdom from The Pants of Perspective. If you’ve read the book, let us know if any moments stood out to you. 

“I reasoned that being afraid to begin things was no way to live my life, and so I thought stuff it.” p15, Ch1

“I reminded myself of what I constantly told other people – that the body has an incredible capacity for change and if you guide it firmly in one direction for long enough it’ll work things out.” p23, ch2

“I guess it just comes down to a choice about how you live your life. I would rather live it completely wetting myself with fear, but doing something worthwhile than staying safe and just bumbling along. That makes you prouder when you get to the end.” p30, ch3

“What if someone announced that it would rain forever from this day forward? Would I sit inside? A life lesson dawned on me: you can’t sit around waiting for the rain to stop. There may never be a ‘good time’ to go, but you just have to and hope the weather clears up.” p107, ch7

“I thought for a moment about what people would think of my decision to leave the trail for a week. I decided that I didn’t care. This was my journey after all. I could spend my whole life chasing the approval of others and I know that I’d not make it to my grave happier than if I simply sought my own approval in how I spent my days.” p148, ch9

“Each time a bizarre thought entered my brain, such as ‘You know you’re not running this much faster than you could walk it, don’t you, Anna?’ I would stop. I would talk to that thought aloud like an insane person, and effectively tell it to bugger off. Or, better still, I would reason with it, I would acknowledge it, and offer another explanation. It was the battle between the cheerleaders and the soldiers of self-doubt once again, and it raged on like a civil war in my mind for the whole afternoon.” p145/6, ch10

“Watching Nikki* walk away, I became acutely aware that she was the perfect example of what this run was about. I often found my journey reflected in the lives of others. It had been a real privilege to watch Nikki today. To observe as she told herself she wasn’t capable of something, to be gently convinced that maybe, just maybe, she could do it, and then to watch her come spinning and grinning out of the other side. It was days like this that filled me right up to the brim.” p340, ch24
*Nikki joined Anna to run ‘a few Ks’, was worried she’d be too slow for Anna, but ended up running 20KM, double her longest-ever run.

“For all the ranting and raving I had done along the way, for all the swearing at orange triangles, talking to poles and cursing the weather, I still adored this trail. It would beat me to a pulp, grind my body to pieces, turn me into a blurring wreck, and yet I truly loved it. The highs, the lows, the companionship it had offered me. The challenges it had laid in my path to allow me the freedom to grow as an individual. I felt very proud to be among the few to have travelled along it, and to have a deep connection with the land it passed through.” p359/360 ch27

“I would have taken that lighthouse [which signified the end of the trail] over all the money in the world at that moment. Because all of the money in the world couldn’t have made me feel the way I did in the hour that followed. Money buys you material things which can be taken away. And no one could take away the way I felt today.” p402, ch30

See Anna McNuff’s website for more information on The Pants Of Perspective, as well as her other books Fifty Shades of the USA, in which Anna cycles 11,000 miles through every state of America, and Llama Drama in which Anna and her friend Faye head off on a 5,500-mile cycling adventure through South America.

The next She Runs Cardiff book club takes place on Wednesday 2nd December at 8pm. We’ll be discussing Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson and are thrilled that Lisa will be joining us for the discussion. There’s a warm welcome to all our members. More information will be posted in our Facebook group nearer to the time or you can contact us via any of our social media channels if you’d like to know more. 

She Runs: Cardiff Birthday Challenge

by Tanya O’Neill

October 2020 was always going to be a magical month; it would be the first anniversary of She Runs: Cardiff and we knew we needed to celebrate this in a huge style.  The idea of a medal came early on in the year, we sourced a great supplier and our amazing Run Buddy Dani put her pen to paper and designed our beautiful sparkly bling.

We gave the title of our medal as ‘Your Challenge’.  Running related or personal, the medal was a way of celebrating anything that you have achieved either in 2020 or to set a challenge for yourself in October and aim to succeed, because let’s face it; 2020 in itself has been an almighty challenge in itself!

The day of ‘release’ and I did a live video on our Facebook Group and the response was overwhelming.  I remember vividly seeing a message afterwards of 2 ladies from the group running at the time and stopping mid run to watch the live and order their medals whilst stood on The Barrage!  Within the first day we had sold over 50% of the total ordered; the reaction was more than we expected – the women of She Runs: Cardiff LOVE a medal and love the community spirit of our club (And the FOMO!!)
The challenges came flooding in; and whether they were self-care, running or strength, the challenge was personal to everyone.

October 1st came and with it the local lockdown restrictions. This caused a few headaches with certain challenges which required crossing county borders; but nothing stops an SR:C woman and plans were quickly adapted, (Unless you broke your ankle on the first day of your challenge!)

The month seemed to fly by, stories were being shared throughout social media of the challenges and then the celebrations really got started – the medals started arriving. Within Cardiff they were being run delivered by our amazing Run Buddies and despite the torrential rain of the weekend, nothing stopped us! The pictures started appearing on social medal and never before on a dull October weekend have women checked their doormats so many times eagerly waiting for theirs to land.

As a small social running club celebrating only a year of being together and with more than half of that being in the middle of a world-wide pandemic and not being able to actual run together, we carried on encouraging.  We have continued to support and welcome women to the group with open arms, to feel safe in the comfort of knowing that individual challenges are important to us all.  October wasn’t just about running; it was about getting through another month in lockdown, taking some time out for ourselves and our wellbeing.  It didn’t matter if you didn’t achieve the goal you set yourself at the start of the month, you got through to the end of another month being part of a great community and embraced everything that the month threw at you. 

We didn’t just survive October, we thrived in October – and we have a beautiful medal to remember doing that together. 

Thank you ladies for being part of our journey. 

Some quotes from our members on their medal challenges:

I deserve my beautiful October challenge medal and am proud of what I have achieved and I will continue with drinking the water, food and exercise. It’s hasn’t gone 100% but what in life ever does, – Nia

Completed my October challenge which was being active every day, not just running, a walk at lunchtime or a quick bike ride, not always easy with 3 children and working but I’ve enjoyed it and I love my glittery medal. – Melanie

She Runs Challenge completed!! 10 runs with one new run route a week. I even managed a 10km run ( with some walking) as a bonus which I never thought I would do! Powered on by purple gear and SR:C playing – Claire

I’ve been thinking about this and how I don’t deserve it because I haven’t done my challenge. But do you know what?! I do deserve it because even though I haven’t got my 5k PB and I have hardly ran the past few week, I haven’t given up! I’ve been to my gym, I’ve done kitchen workouts, I’ve been planning my boxing classes for when we are out of lockdown #2 and I’m still bloody here! If you haven’t completed your challenge, so what. You tried, you’ve done your best and that’s all we can. I’m proud of this medal and everything it stands for. Me, you – US! 💜💜💜 – Kelly

We may be a running group but that doesn’t mean our #sherunscardiffbirthday challenge has to be running related. I’ve chosen to work on my self-care for mine. Whilst earlier in the month I didn’t do so well I’ve had the past week off and I’ve done barely anything, which was exactly what I needed. My week has consisted of running or walking with friends, napping, catching up on missed tv shows and generally taking it easy. That said I’ve hit my steps target each day, which I never do when I’m working. – Sam

I wanted to do something non-running as I’m very guilty of just running and not doing anything else, so I settled on 20 press ups per day. This may not sound much, but I find them so difficult 😂 When I first started, I had to stop several times, but I can now do 20 without stopping 😁


by Kate Morgan, Run Buddy for SRC

365 days ago a group of runners, passionate about creating an inclusive, supportive and bilingual women’s run club in Cardiff sat around a table to see if their vision could be realised. A year later, we are thrilled and delighted to be celebrating the first anniversary of She Runs: Cardiff. And what a year it has been! An incredible community of over 1000 women has formed (and in the most challenging of years, thanks 2020). 

‘I cannot express my gratitude enough… this has given me a love for running which I never thought I had – Catrin 

On 13 October 2019 our very first official run took place: 45 women gathered in the drizzle of a cool Autumnal morning to run a 5k around Roath Park. With our club emphasising the social and friendship side of running just as much as the physical side, we celebrated the launch and got to know one another a little better with a post run coffee and cake at the very accommodating Coffee #1 (I’m still not sure they’ve ever had that many people queuing for coffee by 9am on a Sunday!).

‘I am really proud of of this tribe of women that have got each other’s back; thank you to for helping build our amazing, friendly running community that is always positive and supportive of everyone, whether they are taking their first steps in running or completing ultras’ – Amy

As Autumn turned to Winter, our twice weekly runs, supported by our wonderful band of buddies, grew in popularity. We provided support at Parkrun and local races, including Cardiff Half, Mo Runs, Cardiff Trail Half. Pre-race nerves (and those pesky long waits in the loo queue) are always helped when you get to wait alongside familiar faces! 

‘It has kept a ‘non runner’ running! After completing my first 5k last year I was sure I would take the medal and ‘run’…….because of She Runs: Cardiff I feel part of a special group of inspiring, supportive women who are always there with encouragement and kindness. The ethos of this group is how women should be to each other and I’m so grateful to be part of it! I would never have kept running without it.’ – Verity

The start of 2020 saw a 10k being introduced to our weekly Sunday run, the launch of a super range of purple She Runs: Cardiff merchandise, our busiest ever group run with 55 members keen to start the new year on the right foot on 5 January and the very first of our monthly challenges: a (some might say evil!) plank challenge. March saw a SRC takeover of a local parkrun, appropriately on International Women’s Day, where we turned Tremorfa purple. 

Such a friendly group, don’t be worried about turning up and not knowing anyone. They are a welcoming friendly group. I have met a lot of new people since joining the group and they are all very supportive’ – Nicola 

And then … Covid-19 struckIt goes without saying that coronovirus has had a huge impact on running communities globally. And at a time when many of us needed our runs more than ever to help cope with the challenging impact of life in a pandemic.And yet amongst all the challenges the pandemic and lockdown has posed, over the last six months She Runs : Cardiff grew from strength to strength. We’ve adapted to providing more support virtually and via social media as we’ve been unable to meet in person. This has included Virtual Runs twice a week where we encourage members to share their runs (and obligatory running selfies of course!). We’ve continued with monthly virtual challenges (including a fantastically popular bingo), launched a Couch 2 5k programme and turned Cardiff purple with a virtual relay, whilst raising an absolutely phenomenal £2900 for Cardiff Women’s Aid; a huge thank you to all who took part to make this such a fun, happy event and to those who donated in support.

Love being part of the purple Army’ – Tricia

Our members have also enjoyed a new SRC book club, which included a live zoom chat with the inspirational author, broadcaster and adventurer Lowri Morgan. And many of us have been given the gentle nudge required to sign up to an ultramarathon after a fantastic SRC zoom chat with endurance athlete Rhys Jenkins, fresh from setting a new record for being the fastest person to run the Wales Coast Path. Insight into this epic challenge and his ultra running experiences have been hugely motivational.

Being part of She Runs: Cardiff is special. I always feel supported and part of a lovely community. I have met so many like minded ladies and made many new friends. Finding this club couldn’t have come at a better time in my life after a tough few months of mental health struggles. I will forever be grateful to all the ladies who make the club amazing.- Alex

Our messages of inclusivity, support and fun have reached a wider audience with a feature in Women’s Running #tribeofthemonth, interview on Radio Cymru and on Run Wales. But it’s our members comments and feedback that mean so much to us, including the wonderful messages we’ve received to celebrate our first birthday and which are dotted throughout this article.

She Runs has kept me together through the darkest days. It is far more than a ‘run club’ it’s a group of women that build each other up, hold each other up, support and share through life’s ups and downs. Having always been shy, anxious and extremely cautious SR:C has helped me grow as a person, it’s given belief in myself and it’s given me a confidence I never knew I could have. SR:C helps you put one foot in front of the other. Happy Birthday SR:C! – Ann 

A huge and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has made She Runs: Cardiff the fantastic club that it has become; let’s a raise a glass (or energy gel!) and shout three cheers to SRC: happy 1st birthday! Enjoy all the fantastic celebrations we’ve planned. To finish, here’s a wonderful poem written by one of our SRC committee members and chief designer, Dani:

What SR:C means to me
She Runs: Cardiff means to me
The happiest version of me I can be.
I’m lucky enough to call lots of you friends
I really just wish that these lockdowns would end!
You all spur me on with your daily run posts
And your ‘encouragement’ to run (a big) part of Wales coast
You make me want to run, you make me want to share,
Because I know you’re there and you care
You share, you support, you applaud, and you cheer
It really has been the most wonderful year

She Runs: Cardiff parkrun takeover on International Women’s Day

My Running Journey with SRC

by Joanne Wellbeloved

I’ve watched my partner Glenn complete half marathons over the past few years and I have always said I would love to be able to do that. I was out cheering on some of my Slimming World members running the Cardiff Half in October 2019 and I thought to myself let’s do this before I’m 50. A years training should do it right?! 

I was browsing on Facebook that evening and saw a post about She Runs. I always find sometimes things pop up on Facebook exactly when you need them too! I joined the group, set my alarm, pulled on the only pair of running trainers I had along with an old pair of leggings and went down to Penylan Library absolutely terrified. I was thinking will I even be able to run? Will anyone speak to me?. It was a daunting thought at first. 

She Runs: Cardiff’s first official run with Jo to the left in blue

I met the ladies there, it was lovely to see a friendly face as I already knew Sam Haines, everyone was really welcoming and off we went. 

Elaine and Sam chatted to me the whole way, I was listening to them but didn’t really say much as I couldn’t breathe! I managed to complete the 5K route which i’ll admit wasn’t easy. It took 41 minutes but I was happy with this as I hadn’t done any running in many years. The next day I couldn’t walk down the stairs but I felt amazing and I couldn’t wait to go out again next week.

As well as running on the Sunday morning, I joined the She Runs Wednesday evening run and even started going out on my own on a Friday. I caught the running bug and started to slowly increase my distance and….. signed up for the Cardiff Half for 2020. 

November 2019 I ran my first 10k and I haven’t looked back. Then in March 2020, the UK went into lockdown. She Runs had to stop but the fabulous run buddies have supported us with virtual run clubs and virtual challenges. The group has really kept me motivated especially as all of our races were cancelled/postponed due to COVID-19. I even bought a treadmill in a panic just incase we were banned from leaving the house altogether! 

One morning on May 22nd, I went out on a long run and ended up completing my first half marathon at 13.1 miles.

One of the virtual challenges was the ‘Race to the Stones’ Ultra Marathon which was 100k over a week. It was hard work and I managed to complete the equivalent of two full marathons over four days. However this taught me a valuable lesson of not to overtrain as I ended up being poorly. Always listen to your body! Again, the support during this time was incredible and they even dedicated the last 9 miles for me as I couldn’t run it.

My PB for a 5k run is now 28 minutes so this shows how far I have come since my first run. The Facebook group are so friendly and encouraging and they really make you feel part of such a great running community. It’s great to have a hobby which I enjoy, that has benefits for both my physical and mental health and I have even lost 1st in weight since doing this. Now that really is a perk!

So, I started off being not a runner in the slightest (The only thing I could run was a bath) to running half marathon distances within 7 months. I have run three half marathon runs and I am on course to complete 1000 miles in 2020. Although I may not be the fastest or the fittest, I now class myself as a runner and If I can do that, anyone can! 

Happy 1st Birthday to She Runs Cardiff. Here’s to many more!

She Runs: Cardiff meets ultra runner and Wales Coast Path record holder Rhys Jenkins

Fresh from setting a new record for being the fastest person to run the Wales Coast Path, endurance athlete Rhys Jenkins joined She Runs: Cardiff via Zoom to tell us about his epic challenge and his ultra running experiences so far.

Rhys, who grew up in Penarth but now lives in Cardiff, ran the 870-mile (1,400km) Wales Coast Path in 20 days, 10 hours and 38 minutes, setting off from Chester on 21 July and ending in Monmouth on 10 August. He ran an average of 40 miles a day – including 56 miles on the penultimate day and just short of 50 miles on the final day. He has raised £5,500 so far for three charities – CF Warriors, NSPCC and Maggie’s Cardiff. 

Rhys after completing his challenge

A phenomenal achievement, no doubt about that – so we were amazed to learn that running the Wales Coast Path wasn’t actually in his plans for this year. He had been training for the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon, known as one of the toughest races on the planet, when Covid and lockdown struck and the race was postponed. Knowing that he was in peak physical condition, he decided to take on this challenge in his homeland instead, adding that it had always been on his bucket list of challenges to complete.

Rhys and his wife Cerys

He beat the previous record set by James Harcombe from New Zealand in 2017 by more than two hours, but says some days were incredibly tough, both physically and mentally. There were days when he was in a lot of pain as well as days when his mood was low. When asked what kept him motivate, he said thinking about the causes he was running for, as well as his support crew, who kept him going throughout. His team was headed by his wife Cerys, who not only drove the van around Wales for the entire challenge, waiting for him at every check point, but also helped with nutrition and hydration, footcare and more, as well as mental encouragement too.

Rhys has undoubtedly been a huge inspiration to many runners, with thousands following his challenge online and around 60 runners joining him to run sections of the path (including me and my eight year old son!). He said that seeing these people pushing themselves to achieve more than they thought possible, and having complete strangers turn up to support him, or offer him accommodation for the night, was incredibly inspiring to him too and really helped him get through the tough days.

Cathryn and her son joining Rhys on his challenge

Rhys has been competing in ultra events for around a decade, and he and his wife Cerys also stage local ultra events with their company, Pegasus Ultra Running. Their ethos is that ultra running is for everyone and as such their events have no cut off times, meaning they are accessible to runners of all paces.

He had plenty of advice for anyone thinking of taking on their first ultra running challenge. It’s a different style of event, he says, with less pressure on time and pace than the more competitive style of road race many of us are used to. Yes, there will be faster runners aiming for a personal best, but there are also those who can take up to 17 hours to complete the 40 mile distance. They get to fully appreciate the whole experience, he said, taking in the scenic views of the dramatic Welsh landscape in a way that the faster runners don’t. “An ultramarathon is an adventure,” he told us. “A picnic with a bit of running.” 

She Runs: Cardiff members listening to Rhys speak

This sentiment was echoed by She Runs: Cardiff member Bernadette McCarthy, who ran her first ultra when she was 50. She joked that she doesn’t look like what you might picture an ultrarunner to look like – although she can wear that badge proudly as she now has several under her belt, all of which she’s run on her own terms, running, walking and stopping as much as she needs. “I’ve never run a marathon,” she told us, which came as a surprise to lots of us. She added that the idea of pounding the pavements for 26.2 miles doesn’t appeal to her and me and that she would choose an ultra over a marathon any day. She was attracted to Pegasus events because they don’t have a cut off time, meaning there is no pressure to run at a certain pace. She even makes sure to stop for an ice cream midway through the Pegasus Vale Of Glamorgan Ultra Marathon.

Another She Runs: Cardiff member Gruby Barrett shared her experiences of volunteering at Pegasus ultra events. She explained that there are check points every few miles, with volunteers making sure runners all reach the points safely. Volunteers provide refreshments – not the gels and sports drinks of road races, but ‘proper’ food which one year included pies. They also provide mental and emotional support to runners, helping them get round the course.

We know from the chat in our Facebook page that several of our members have been thinking about running their first ultra event, and we had great feedback that this online event helped answer questions and concerns and cemented their decision to take on such a challenge in the future. We’ve also since had a number of women who have surprised even themselves by thinking that one day it could be possible… 

As Rhys himself said, you are capable of so much more than you think.

We’re looking forward to seeing our purple army on the ultra marathons of South Wales and beyond in the not too distant future.

Thank to Rhys, Bernadette and Gruby for giving their time so generously to chat with us, for sharing their experiences so openly, and for answering all of our questions. 

For more information on Pegasus, visit the website.

You can follow Rhys Jenkins on Instagram here.


by SR:C Run Buddy Cathryn Scott (@cardiffmummysays)

She Runs: Committee

Amongst our Run Buddies we have a core team – the She Runs: Committee. The committee make decisions about SR:C and how we develop going forward. We come from all kinds of backgrounds and lots of different places! Read a bit more about us all below:

AJ (Anna-Jane), 47.

Role: Social Media Team, Treasurer and Fundraising Team.

Originally from Pembrokeshire and now living in Whitchurch with my husband (aka The Bearded Running Pixie), our 2 teenagers and Charlie, our dog.

I’m a GP in Risca, Newport and I also teach Pilates.

I’ve been running for over 10 years but have never enjoyed it as much as I have since I’ve been running with She Runs. I get out 4 times a week if I can, especially during lockdown.

Kate, 38

Role: Social Media Team & Run Organiser

Cyncoed – originally from Aberystwyth

I began ‘properly’ running three years ago whilst on holiday in Majorca, tentatively running along the beach as the sun rose each morning. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing but just knew I loved it! Since then I’ve completed two marathons, my favourite being London in 2019 for Tommy’s, tha baby charity, which was simply extraordinary and utterly epic! I’m Mum to three young children, including a little lockdown baby girl, and I’m currently enjoying a gentle return to running postpartum; you’ll see me round Roath Lake a lot as I slowly build back up the distance, please wave hello if you do!

Being part of She Runs: Cardiff is a privilege; I’ve met so many lovely, inspiring women who share my joy for running. I’m part of the social media team on the committee for SEC, as well as one of the run organisers, sharing the organisation of the weekly group runs and virtual run club. And in ‘real life’ I work at Velindre Cancer Centre as a nurse specialist.

Gemma, 30

Role: LiRF Coach and Parkrun Co-ordinator.

I started running just over 2 years ago by doing the couch 2 5k spurred on by a broken arm putting a stop to my professional wrestling training and power lifting. 
My favourite type of running (aside from She Runs) is Parkrun and I have done 50(ish) runs now at 22 different locations and it’s one of my favourite bits of the weekend.
I am a mental health & addictions nurse by trade but I am also LiRf qualified and am currently undertaking my Personal Training Diploma.

Nia, 41

Role: Committee Chair

I live in the Heath. 
I am originally from Barry but have lived in Cardiff for 12 years. 
I have a 5 year old son called Efan who keeps me on my toes. 

I started running in 2016 after having Efan. I had always been into fitness and going to the gym but couldn’t find the time to get to the gym whilst balancing work and motherhood. So I started running instead. I signed up to the 2017 Virgin London Marathon and haven’t looked back since. 
I always like to challenge myself, so marathon distance, albeit painful and a huge commitment is definitely my favourite so far. But I am hoping to add ultra to my list of running achievements soon. 

Why do I run – I have been running consistently now for 4 years and I think it’s just part of me now. I need it for my sanity!

Sam, 39

Role: Secretary to the Committee

I’m originally from Basingstoke but came to South Wales to go to university and ended up staying.

I started running back in 2012 inspired by the Olympics and the Paralympics. When we’re able to run together I organise our unofficial 6am run club (yep some if us are actually crazy enough to get up that early by choice to run). My favourite race was the Cardiff Bay 10k in 2019 as I ran with two others and helped them reach their goal. There’s something special and inspiring about helping people achieve more than they thought they could through running.

Andrea, 48

Role: Welfare Officer

As well as being a SRC run Buddy, I am half of your Welfare team, with Coleen. I am an NHS doctor, and have two boys. Life is a constant juggle! I enjoy running. It’s good for my health and well-being and I love being able to share this and support others, which SRC enables me to do. It’s also great for my work:life balance and as I’m very good at chatting, SRC Social runs are ideal for me! 

Coleen, 41

Role: Welfare Officer

From North Devon but have been living in Wales for over 20 years – I met my husband at university and didn’t go back home!
I work in financial services.
I’m one of the Welfare Officers and was interested in this role as I wanted to ensure women feel safe and valued as part of the SR:C community.
I started running by completing Couch to 5k about 9 years ago, but didn’t start running on a regular basis until around 3.5 years ago, this was after I had my two sons and I discovered running as part of a group which gave me the motivation and confidence I needed to run the Cardiff half marathon – something I’d always said I wanted to do before I was 40. Since then I’ve done two more half marathons and I still enjoy taking part in races but my first love is a social run with plenty of chat, laughter and the opportunity for cake afterwards!


Role: Social Media Team & Challenge Co-ordinator

I have lived in Thornhill for the past 10 years. I was born in Rugby, Warwickshire and lived in many places before settling here with my son.

I left my position as a Cinema Manager after 15 years, being a single parent and a 50 hour working week just didn’t work! I now work part time for a small family company in Cardiff, not glamorous or exciting but I enjoy it! 

My running journey started with the C25k in April 2016, 2 years later I ran a marathon – I totally believe your body will complete any challenge, you just need to convince your mind! 
Running is my release and has benefitted not only my physical but more importantly my mental well-being. It’s my time, doing what I enjoy. I exercise 4/5 times a week and love running in the mountains. 

I’ve been part of the She Runs : Cardiff committee since the start & have enjoyed watching how we have evolved since October 2019. 2020 has been a huge success and as part of the social media team we’ve delivered many virtual challenges to keep our ladies motivated during a difficult time. 

I run for fun and love nothing more than supporting others on their adventure. 

Myfanwy, 39

Role: Social Media Team & Website Co-ordinator

Born in Newport but raised in Cardiff. I work for Rondo Media a TV production company doing admin & finance. I am part of the She Runs: Cardiff Social Media team and look after the website.

I’ve always kept fit but I didn’t start running until 5 years ago after a friend persuaded me to give it a try. I was reluctant! I have arthritis so it never occurred to me that I could do it! Fast forward a few years and I’ve run 4 marathons, and countless half marathons and 10k races (but never a 5k race!).

I’m a mum of 3 (12, 11 and 6 years) so running is my time; for headspace, for exercise and of course for socialising.

I’m a firm believer now that ANYBODY and EVERYBODY can run. We are all designed for forward motion and sometimes all we need is a confidence boost. I love supporting others to catch the running bug.

Rhian, 36

Role: Social Media Team & Run Organiser

I live in Roath.

I love to be Outdoors ideally in the sun but will take whatever weather’s going (don’t really have much choice!) My job in “real life”: Dietitian.

I organise Wednesdays’ runs – either in “real life” or virtually – hopefully it gets everyone geared up  for a great run day!
I started running 2005 – thought that maybe I should get fitter, running was good to fit in around work, cheap, could do it anywhere – one thing it was not ….. easy! My favourite run is now a run with people!! Never thought I would say that! I’ve been running now with company for over a year and it’s totally the way forward, chatting totally makes the time go quicker – result! Plus you get so meet so many fab people!
Roll on real runs coming back

Amy, 42

Role: Legal Advisor & Network Co-ordinator

I’m from Staffordshire originally but have been living in Cardiff since coming to university here.  I live in Roath with my husband and 2 sons.
I started running originally to complete the Medoc Marathon ( the one with the wine!) before I was 30 with my dad. I had a break from running but came back to it in 2018 to complete the New York Marathon and the Cardiff half that year and have been running ever since. 
I like running on my own for headspace, often early in the morning to get some calm before a busy day.  However,  I also really enjoy the social side of running and love being part of the She Runs: Cardiff Community.
On the committee I help with legal stuff and  networking and since lockdown, I’ve been posting the weekly treasure hunt. Its been great to see that even though we can’t run together, the group continue to support and encourage each other.
Depending upon whether I’m training for anything I run 3-4 times a week. In July a lot of this was uphill as I completed the month long Tough Runner Trifecta challenge as well as clocking up the miles for Run around the world. I’ve completed 5 marathons and I’d love to run/walk an ultra. 

Elaine, 45

Role: Committee member 

I am about to turn 46 years old and live in Rhiwbina (where I grew up). I am married with two children (age 14 and 11) and work as a nursery support worker at Cylch Meithrin Rhiwbina. I am also one of the Welsh speaking Buddies (not quite fluent but almost!). 

I started running several years ago and have mostly run for fun and fitness. I have been fortunate to develop many close friendships through running and I am hugely grateful for that. 

The support provided by everyone in the She Runs:Cardiff group (on issues often not connected to running) is amazing and humbling. Running and chatting seems to provide a safe space to talk about what’s on your mind – it’s helped me over the years and I hope it will help others too. It’s a unique environment and one which I cherish.  

I look forward to meeting, running, walking, chatting and having a cuppa with all of you. My specialist subjects are Christmas and bobble hats (don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Dani, 33

Role: Designer

Originally from Holywell, North Wales, currently live in Pontypridd with my husband, 3 year old daughter Alexis and miniature schnauzer Ramsey. 

My role within the committee is design, so all the lovely merch you have, our logos and many social media posts have been designed by me. 

I started running in 2008 when I lived in Connecticut for a year whilst in uni. I started running to help me lose weight, quit smoking and stop drinking cider! 

Now I run because I love it. I love the headspace, the freedom, the ‘Me’ time and most importantly the wonderful people it has brought into my life. And of course coffee #1 on a Sunday morning.

I try to run a few times a week and participate in a number of races a year (pre lockdown), varying from parkrun to Cardiff Half. I was supposed to run my first marathon (Liverpool) in May 2020 but this was cancelled so I’ll be running in May 2021, hopefully.

My biggest running achievement so far would have to be the virtual race to the stones, 100km in 7 days. I absolutely loved the challenge and hope to do the event for real one day. Another achievement has to be She Runs : Cardiff. Together with a group of wonderful, likeminded women, we have built a hugely successful brand and community in such a short space of time, and I am super proud to be a part of that. 

Sharon, 39

Role: Fundraising Team & Networking Co-ordinator.

I live in Fairwater and I’m your C25K run leader and #partyattheback ambassador!
Mum of 3 (17, 13 & 5), a HR Professional and Quality Manager for a structural engineers, artistic roller skater and coach and a health and wellness coach. 

I started running again after lots of half hearted attempts over the years and in 2018 I took part in the Cardiff half as one of my very first races to ‘keep a friend company’ .. who subsequently was walking home as I ran the last kilometre to the finish but haven’t looked back since. I pretty much run whenever I get the chance and can’t imagine not running now. I’m a heart rate runner so you won’t find me running fast but running has given me so much and this group is testament to that! 
To mark the year I turn 40 (January 2021) I’m hoping to complete my biggest running achievement yet and run the Amsterdam marathon eek!! 

Bethan, 40.

Role: Social Media Team and Treasurer.

I live in Heath, originally from Mountain Ash. I’ve been living in Cardiff for almost 4 years now with my husband and 11 year old son. I work as an accounts manager in our family business, when I’m not doing that I’m ‘mums taxi’!

I started running at the beginning of 2016 originally to get fit. I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. My first race was Caerphilly 10K in May 2016 and haven’t looked back, I try my best to get out 3 or 4 days a week. I love the social aspect of running and also the fact that you can just change and leave the house – no travelling to gym/classes. I’ve been doing Pilates for a year now in addition to running to build my strength which I really enjoy too.

She Runs: Around the World!

One of the most enjoyable parts of being a Run Buddy and committee member for She Runs Cardiff has been seeing the response from our community to our monthly challenges. After an exciting month ticking off running bingo squares in June we needed a July challenge to keep us motivated and when I heard about the Run Around the World event organised by the company, Run Things it sounded perfect. We’d previously taken part in their December event, Run up to Christmas, and their approach of promoting both physical and mental health is something we also feel passionate about at SR:C.

Run Around the World is a virtual event where entrants are allocated to either Team North, South, East or West and runs are logged in an attempt to have enough combined mileage to run 40,075km – that’s the distance around the world. There is no minimum requirement, whether you log 1km or 100km, it all goes towards your team total, and means you are eligible for a medal, with some of the entry proceeds going to the charity Mind.
It’s become clear since we set up SR:C that in our community we love a challenge, we love a good cause, and we love a medal! This meant I knew there would be some interest in setting up a SR:C team for the event, however, I was overwhelmed by just how much interest when over 100 women signed up.

Our team was allocated to Team West and from early on our total mileage was impressive, with us quickly achieving a place near the top of the leader board. For a little bit of extra motivation and fun I tracked our total distance to see what locations we could reach from Cardiff as the miles built up. Geography is not my strong point but with some vital support from Google I was able to provide photos and facts from locations including France, Portugal, Russia, Dubai, Lake Michigan, Los Angeles, Thailand, and Namibia. As ever, our community joined in with enthusiasm, sharing photos and experiences from their travels and discussing races all over the world that they’d love to do – there wasn’t a lot of interest in the Siberian ice half marathon though, I think it was the mention of the risk of freezing eyeballs that may have put people off!

After spending some time at number 2 on the leader board we slipped into third place on the 31st July. We could have taken this as a sign that it was time to give our trainers a rest, but we’re a force to be reckoned with at SR:C, so instead it was a day of trying to win the second place spot back, with various efforts ranging from a morning 20 mile run to late night walks, sprints to the corner shop, and motivational messages all day, until at midnight we were officially back at number 2.
Team West made it around the world, and the SR:C team contributed an amazing 13,037km of that. It was a brilliant month and a perfect example of how a community can achieve great things while having a lot of fun along the way.

Coleen Manuel, Run Buddy She Runs: Cardiff