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Ready for race day

21 March 2016

Mo - World half

Hundreds of University staff and students are preparing to play a major role in one of the biggest sporting events Cardiff has ever hosted.

The University-sponsored IAAF World Half Marathon Championships take place on Saturday 26 March with thousands of runners following in the footsteps of 200 elite athletes including double Olympic champion Mo Farah.

The University is also holding a ‘Mo Inspires’ event with Run4Wales at the Motorpoint Arena on Friday in which local schoolchildren will meet and quiz Mo.

More than 200 staff, students and alumni are running as part of the University’s Team Cardiff, while up to 300 staff and students are playing vital roles as volunteers to support the event.

The University has also just been announced as the new title sponsor for the Cardiff Half Marathon, building on the successful sponsorship of the World Half Marathon. Limited free spaces will be offered to runners who pledge to raise money for cancer research or dementia and mental health research at the University.

Dr Lee Parry, a Research Fellow at the University’s European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, is one of the members of staff running in the World Half Marathon.

“I see this as another major indicator of the growth and ambition of the University,” he said.

“As a local valley boy and a former student, I can’t wait because on the day I will have a great sense of pride in seeing my University and capital city hosting the World Half Marathon race and world class runners like Mo Farah.”

Dr Parry is raising funds for the research institute where he works, which is looking to tackle cancer in a different way by targeting the small number of cells which maintain a tumour and are capable of creating a new tumour after treatment.

running in half marathon tees

The University’s runners are raising funds for a variety of good causes, including three Cardiff University causes – scholarships and bursaries, cancer research and dementia research.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan gave a good luck message to the Team Cardiff runners: “I just wanted to wish you all the very best for the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon and to say how proud we are that you will be running as part of Team Cardiff.

“It promises to be a unique event for our city, and the University’s involvement will have a major impact on its success.

“I also wanted to thank those of you who, through your fantastic efforts, will be raising not just money but awareness of the University’s crucial work into cancer and dementia research. Best of luck!”

The University’s title partnership ensures major visibility at the event, which is broadcast around the world and will be live on the BBC.

It is an opportunity to showcase both the University and the city, with the athletes finishing alongside some of the University’s historic buildings such as the Bute Building and the Glamorgan Building.

With public health forming a major part of its work, the University has been busy promoting the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle.

half marathon close up

Activities include a research project involving the School of Healthcare Sciences which aims to discover what motivates people to run.

The research team hopes its findings from the event will help organisers of mass races to attract a wider range of entries in future thus improving the nation’s health.

Dr Liba Sheeran, who is leading the study, said: “Low levels of physical activity are a major risk factor for ill health and death from various causes.

“Even though everybody knows that exercise is good for you, the challenge is how to become motivated to be physically active and exercise regularly.

“Although there is evidence of growing popularity of entering mass races, it is not known whether people continue to exercise regularly after completion of the race or indeed what motivates or stops them running.”

The research is aligned to the University’s Transforming Communities programme, which works with communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond in areas including health, education and wellbeing.

Cardiff University has also worked with the IAAF and Run4Wales to provide free entry places, clothing and training support to 500 inexperienced and first-time runners from some of our most disadvantaged communities.