It seems like running is the latest fitness craze to get into these days, as we see runners all around us, every day pounding the streets where we live. Not only will you notice them plodding along the prom, you see them in the park, on the streets, and even on the telly, so we ask ourselves what’s the big deal? That’s why we decided to interview 3 people from Swansea who have taken part in EVERY one of the JCP Swansea Half Marathon races and why it is so special to them.
Our first story to share is from Hugo Thompson of Southgate. He is 54 and has been running for the last 22 years after his wife talked him into him to do a 10k race…he listened and the rest, shall we say, is history.
“It’s fun, relaxing and a challenge, although not all at the same time! I love running; daytime, night, hot, cold, windy, wet, it doesn’t matter.
A run can ease the stress of a workday, make you smile, lets you explore, see stunning scenery, listen to the sea and even see the stars. It is easy and cheap, helps your circulation and helps to keep you trim (helping keep the Welsh cakes at bay). What’s not to like!?!”
Why do you #RunSwansea?
“Prior to the JCP Swansea Half Marathon I’d run one half marathon in Llanelli, so as soon a I heard about the Swansea half in 2014 I was in. It ticks all the boxes, fast flat course, great views and on my door step! The Swansea 13.1 mile race is special for me as already I feel a sense of heritage and commitment to our home half marathon. The fast course always represents a challenge that demands preparation. I have huge respect for anybody completing the distance and simple awe for the really fast, how do they do that!?”
“Whether it’s to run hard (to achieve a personal best) or just for fun, I aim to keep running this half with a smile…for as long as my knees let me!”
Next, we speak to Tracey, 57 from Brynhyfryd who took up running with her sister 18 years ago and hasn’t looked back since…
“I started running in 2001 when Race for Life came to Swansea. In 1996, my sister lost her young daughter Abigail to cancer (when she was 22 months), and in 2000 I lost my husband Kim to cancer when he was 43. It was my sister, Karen, who suggested we take up the Race for Life 5k challenge to raise money for Cancer Research, as cancer had so cruelly stolen loved ones from us at such young ages. We followed a couch to 5k programme and soon found that we actually enjoyed running – and that was the start of many years of challenges for us. We ran 5k’s 10k’s, half and full marathons, then moved onto triathlon – which ultimately resulted in us completing an Ironman together in Austria in 2010.”
It’s fair to say running has changed your life. What have been your greatest achievements?
“Besides the races, I became a UKA qualified running coach and British Triathlon coach, and twice a week I work with children and young people at the pool and the running track. Last year, I completed my second Ironman race in Copenhagen, and hopefully, with my coaching, I am motivating the next generation into a healthy lifestyle.”
Why do you #RunSwansea?
“I signed up to the Swansea Half Marathon in 2014 as I was so excited to have a half marathon race on my doorstep. I had travelled to many races over the years and a half marathon used to be my favourite distance (when I was a bit fitter/faster) so entering the inaugural Swansea Half was a no brainer. I continue to run it each year as I set myself a personal challenge in 2014 to run EVERY Swansea Half until I’m 70 (and beyond if possible) – I’m 57 at the moment and will hopefully be lucky enough to continue in good health and keep returning.”
The last story we would like to share is from Tom Mullen. Tom is from Sketty, he is 40 years old, and took up running approximately 7 years ago.
What is your reason to run?
“Like lots of people my age, I reached a point in my mid 30s where I was in poor shape and needed to do something to shift the pounds. In 2012 I discovered running – or rather it discovered me. I only went on the treadmill in the gym to do something different to swimming and cycling and found that pushing myself harder on the treadmill was more rewarding than either of those things combined.
I still didn’t run outside though until the year leading up to the JCP Swansea Half Marathon in 2014. I felt very self-conscious about running outside and so all of my running was in the gym. However, the real change was running the 10k in Swansea in 2013 and that was it…I was hooked!”
What’s been your experience?
“The next step up was a half marathon and then it turned out that there was going to be one on my doorstep – I had no excuse now! The inaugural JCP Swansea Half Marathon in 2014 was a fantastic event, even though I run most of the route regularly given where I live, Swansea in the sunshine and when the crowds are out is a fantastic experience (and for some reason the sun always comes out for race day). After running 2014 I wanted to improve my time and ran my PB in Swansea in 2015.”
What’s next for you?
“This year will be a first as I will hopefully have completed my first marathon about 9 weeks before Swansea so I’ll either feel in fantastic shape or my body will slowly be returning back to normal after marathon fatigue… either way I’ll be looking to pick up medal number 6 next month.”
Why is running Swansea Half so important to you?
“Life sometimes gets in the way of training or hitting PB’s but I honestly feel compelled to run my home half marathon. The event (unlike my finish times) has however gone from strength to strength and I particularly enjoyed 2018’s race, the atmosphere and bling! Having run every year since 2014 I plan on running every year until my body says no. I love the race and I think it’s really important to support local events like this so given I will turn 40 this year I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep going for many more years to come!”
If you feel inspired by any of these stories or you have your own reason to #RunSwansea then make it count and #BeYourBest at the sixth edition of the JCP Swansea Half Marathon this June. The event is a 13.1-mile race on closed roads, that is flat and fast on a course that is perfect for beginners, and first time half marathon runners. Taking place on the 23rd June 2019, entries will close soon, so reserve your place at the start line of the iconic Brangwyn hall for an incredible experience, from the city to the sea. Go to: www.swanseahalfmarathon.co.uk to book your place or register your family on the fun dash where all generations can follow the steps of their loved ones on the official route of the half marathon. To find out more information on both races, stay up to date with all the latest news, visit the website or like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/SwanseaHalf and follow @Swansea_HM #RunSwansea #BeYourBest on Twitter.