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PhD student’s three major races

9 March 2016

Student running

Staff and students will raise thousands of pounds for good causes at the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships but few are more committed than Rhiannon Philp.

The 27-year-old PhD student aims to raise £2,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of her grandmother Val Volans who died in 2013 after fighting the disease for eight years.

Rhiannon is running two half marathons and the London Marathon over a seven-month period as part of her “Rhi-Runs” fundraising campaign.

She completed a similar challenge three years ago raising £2,500.

The University-sponsored World Half Marathon takes place on Saturday, 26 March with more than 200 staff and students running as part of Team Cardiff and raising money for many good causes.

Rhiannon said: “My grandmother became a bit forgetful, but then started to remember less and less.”

“She would walk out of the house and not know how to get home and everyday living became a struggle for her and my grandfather.

“That went on for about eight years. Towards the end she couldn’t remember who anybody was and was unable to respond. Eventually she stopped eating, as she couldn’t swallow.”

While her grandmother was ill, Rhiannon decided to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Val died just before Rhiannon ran the London Marathon in 2013.

“By the end it was just a relief that she had been released from all that. It was heartbreaking watching her decline,” said Rhiannon.

“I just really want to contribute towards finding a cure because nobody should have to go through that.”

Rhiannon thought running last year’s Cardiff Half Marathon and this year’s World Half Marathon and London Marathon was too good an opportunity to miss.

While she is highly motivated to raise funds for such a good cause, there is one aspect of running that she does not enjoy - the training.

“I don’t enjoy it at all. That’s what’s good about doing the fundraising – you have no choice, but to go through with it!” she said.

grandma and student baby

Originally from Cambridgeshire, Rhiannon has a long association with the University having studied for an undergraduate degree and Master’s in archaeology here from 2006-2010, before returning in 2014 to pursue a PhD in environmental archaeology at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.

She’s delighted that the University is playing a big part in the race and believes that the event will offer a good opportunity for international exposure.

“I think it’s really great for the University to get involved in this kind of thing. It is highlighting the importance of health and sport, and as a world championship it is fantastic exposure for the University and the city,” she said.

Anyone wishing to donate to Rhiannon’s fundraising can do so here. Dementia research is among three Cardiff University causes that runners have the opportunity to help alongside student support and cancer research. Runners have been signing up to our JustGiving pages.

Registration for mass participant runners in the World Half Marathon Championships has reopened due to popular demand. You can still run in the footsteps of Mo Farah by registering for the race here.

Many University staff and students are running. Short interviews can be viewed below:

Dr Lee Parry of the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute

Medical student Tom Chandy