At 6.45am on the 14th of October while most of us were still sleeping, 60 students from Swansea University boarded a coach to Cardiff in order to run the Cardiff Half Marathon for SOS Africa.

With 13.1 miles to get through, this run was not one to be taken lightly, which was evident in the number of athletes limping around Cardiff city centre. Starting at Cardiff Castle, the race route made its way down to Penarth, through to Cardiff Bay, out towards Roath, and back through to City hall where crowds cheered runners across the finishing line.

The marathon consisted of over 13,000 runners, a few of which opted out of the usual sportswear in exchange for fancy dress, including a pink gorilla carrying an ironing board, Kermit the frog, Buzz Lightyear and four ‘Jamaicans’ carrying a bobsleigh. Due to the size of the race many roads were closed off for the morning’s event and with the sun making a rare appearance, local residents embraced the exciting atmosphere and came along to support the runners.

With the London Olympics still fresh in people’s memories, many were inspired to take part in the cities ‘sightseeing’ event. The Lloyds TSB Cardiff Half Marathon extended their field as a record number of people registered for the race. Though Mo Farah was no-where to be seen, there were some extremely gifted runners taking part; the fastest time being an incredible 01:02:21. Emma Mckay, a third year English student from Swansea was one of the 60 students to participate in the race. Having run it last year for SOS Africa, Emma says she decided to take part again this year.

‘It was a really fun day running as a team with SOS,’ she said. ‘And I wanted to raise more money for the charity.’

After spraining the ligaments in her knee during last year’s race, Emma was happy to have beat her 2 hours 50 by completing the race in 02:26:24 and although she will be graduating in the summer she told the Siren that she’ll hopefully travel down for it next year. ‘It’s kind of become tradition now,’ she said.

Llyr Roberts, a third year Electrical engineer student, was another student representing Swansea University who ran for SOS Africa. His reason for taking part in his first Cardiff Half Marathon was ‘just for the challenge and to raise money for a good cause.’

With an impressive first time of 01:44:15 and after being asked whether he would do it again he said: ‘Yes I would. I’m trying to get a few boys on my course to do it as well. Get a bit of competition going on!’

So before using winter as an excuse to snuggle up and laze in front of the television, consider signing up for next year’s race and start training!

By Evelyne Thomas

SOS Africa is a non-profit, UK registered charity, co-founded in 2005 by Matt Crowcombe, a Swansea PhD student, along with Henry Matthews, a teacher in the International School of South Africa. The charity aims to break the cycle of poverty in South Africa by providing children with an education. SOS Africa hosts many fundraising events throughout the year as well as having a ‘Sponsor a child’ programme. In 2005, SOS decided to make the Cardiff Half Marathon their annual fundraiser.

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