Running with Alfie’s Army

23 June 2017

Gareth Thomas speaking to crowd

Wales rugby legend Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas has challenged two groups of young, inexperienced runners - put together by Cardiff University - to complete the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon.

Both groups will run as part of Alfie’s 100-strong Alfie’s Army team and receive training advice and support from Alfie himself ahead of the race on Sunday, 1 October – just 100 days away.

Alfie’s runners, comprising young people aged 17 to 21, follow in the footsteps of last year’s Alfie’s Angels, who were novice female runners.

Two of the Alfie’s Army teams will be filmed being put through their paces for the BBC1 Wales TV Alfie’s Army series.

Gareth Thomas in crowd with hands in the air

The other successful entrants – including both Cardiff University teams - will be given free places in the race, receive a detailed training plan and have the opportunity to meet the man himself at several events.

The two University teams comprise a set of students who promote wellbeing among their peers and a group of volunteers from a youth forum in Grangetown which is supported by the University’s Community Gateway engagement project.

“A goal for better health”

Gareth Thomas with two young runners

Medical student Annabelle Hook, captain of the student wellbeing champions team, said she was looking forward to being part of the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon, the second largest half marathon in the UK.

“Being in Cardiff I feel like it’s a necessity as a student. It's so heavily talked about and so many people take part I really want to run it once for the experience. Plus it's great to have a goal for better health,” she said.

Ali Abdi, Community Gateway Partnerships Manager who helped put the Grangetown Youth Forum volunteers team together, said: “The Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon is a wonderful event that encourages people to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle...”

Ali Abdi

“It’s great that the University supports the race and I’m looking forward to seeing our youth forum volunteers step up to the challenge of completing a half marathon.”

Ali Abdi, Partnerships and Facilities Manager

Gareth Thomas said the challenge of preparing 100 17 to 21-year-olds for the Cardiff Half Marathon would be “tougher than any process we’ve done before, but also more rewarding at the end of it”.

He added: “They will have natural ability and fitness, but the unhealthier lifestyle is probably more attractive for them...”

“Getting them to go out and run instead of going on social media, or partying is the difficult thing.”

Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas, Wales rugby legend

The former Wales and British & Irish Lions star gave his novice runners a day to remember last Saturday when he took them on their first training run from Cardiff University’s Talybont Sports Village and along the Taff Trail.

The University’s title sponsorship of the Cardiff Half builds upon its partnership with last year’s event and the IAAF World Half Marathon in Cardiff last March, which included double Olympic champion Mo Farah.

The University is offering limited free Cardiff Half places as part of #TeamCardiff to runners who pledge to raise at least £150 (or £100 for students) for our research into cancer and neuroscience & mental health.100% of funds raised by #TeamCardiff will go towards their preferred Cardiff University cause.

More information about #TeamCardiff is available here.

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