Running the Cardiff University World Half Marathon
31 March 2016
International student Sefa Ozalp comes from Turkey and is studying for his MSc in Crime, Safety & Justice here at the School of Social Sciences.
He tells us about taking part in one of Cardiff's biggest 2016 events.
"Last weekend, I accomplished one of the most challenging and at the same time the most rewarding events of my life: The World Half Marathon. I was happy to be one of the 16,000 runners who ran in the streets of Cardiff.
"I must admit the running course was great for an amateur runner like me. Since I started studying here in September, I’ve had the chance to tour different parts of Cardiff such as the city centre, Cardiff Castle, the lovely Bute Park, Cardiff Bay and finally Roath Park with its awesome lake. These are all peaceful and beautiful attraction sites of Cardiff and they worth spending couple of hours at each. However, the World Half Marathon allowed me to check them out in just under two and half hours. My mind was distracted from focusing on my legs by the beautiful scenes of Cardiff.
"I was amazed by the cheering crowd; the people of Cardiff, as always, were supportive and lovely. Although the weather was a bit chilly and it rained for almost an hour, there were spectators everywhere I ran. I can’t remember how many high-fives I gave or how many jellies I was offered during the 13.1 mile course. I was cheered by friends from university, elderly couples, families with young children and even by a one-year-old baby who could barely wave.
"It wasn't my first civic run; I ran several in-city long distance runs back in my country. However, it was amazing to see so many people cheering under the rainy weather. It was relatively easy to stay warm while running, but the cheering crowd did not seem to care about the weather. They deserve a big round of applause.
"Cardiff University was represented by 200 runners and I was proud to be one of them. With matching black running t-shirts, Team Cardiff ran ‘in the footsteps of champions’ such as Mo Farah. The support amongst Team Cardiff was great; every Team Cardiff member cheered each other while running. From professors to first year students, every member of Cardiff University felt like a big family.
"The support was not only amongst the runners in Cardiff. Cardiff University scientists Professor Ian Hall and Professor Steve Barker - from the University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences - ran the 13.1 miles at sea. In order to support Team Cardiff, the professors run the same distance in South Africa - 8000 miles away from Cardiff - on the deck of a research ship! They had to circle the helideck 328 times in order to complete 13.1 miles. What great support and what a great community!
"The volunteers are also worth mentioning. From taking pictures to handing out water bottles and energy gels to runners, they contributed to the event greatly. I received my finisher medal from one of my colleagues in my postgraduate course in the School of Social Sciences. My finisher’s t-shirt was presented by another colleague - also an international student - whom I met in a Leadership Course provided by The Skills Development Service (SDS). (SDS is run by Cardiff University Students Union and it offers free courses throughout the year in order to help improving the confidence, transferable skills and employability potential of the students.) I was happy to see my friends after running 13.1 miles, despite my trembling knees.
"Finally, as at international student in Cardiff University, it has been a great event for me. I was supported and encouraged by everyone around me. Seeing so many people from different countries coming together for a massive world-wide event like this felt great. I felt so lucky to participate in the Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championship 2016. Although the tiredness lingered two days after the run, and I barely felt my legs after the run, the atmosphere was so great that I would definitely volunteer to be a member of Team Cardiff and run the same gruelling course again."