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#TeamCardiff London Marathon runners raising money for Cardiff University research

London Marathon is one of the world’s most popular running events and raises millions for charities every year. After its postponement in 2020, the world is more eager than ever for this year’s event, which takes place Sunday 3 October 2021. With only a few days left to train, this year’s #TeamCardiff runners are making the most of the challenge.

Meet: Nic Clarke

Nic Clarke is the Implementation Manager at the Wales Cancer Research Centre based at Cardiff University. He secured a ballot space in the London Marathon and has chosen to fundraise for both Cardiff University neuroscience and mental health, and cancer research, and his other chosen charity, Movember.

What inspired you to run the London Marathon for Cardiff University research?

I have a blog called 1 small-step, that I started writing when I was recovering from my own mental health issues. I realised I needed to take control of my life by doing one thing differently, taking that one small step.

The London Marathon is always something I thought about doing. It’s funny – I know so much about the logistics of races, having stood on the finish line delivering running events for years, but I’ve never done a race as a participant before. I didn’t do any running for the first 50 years of my life!

It was a no-brainer to support a local cause alongside Movember, where I am a mental health ambassador. Knowing that the funds I would raise for the University could be directed towards both neuroscience and mental health and cancer research, made it the perfect choice for my fundraising.  

How’s training going?

My life seems to revolve around running, thinking about running, fuelling for running, working out the logistics, so it’s become all consuming. I’ve felt very supported by the running community, Roath park runners, my own Team Cwtch and by the London Marathon organisers who have sent out regular countdown communications. It’s those milestones and getting closer to the end of my training plan that keep me grounded.

How have you found fundraising?

There are still many classic fundraising activities which are prohibited under COVID-19 regulations, but I did organise a sweepstake for the postponed Euros and I’m currently running a raffle which has been very successful.

What motivates you during long runs?

Food! Invariably, my thoughts always wander towards food and after a long run, you need to refuel! I also listen to podcasts and try to distract my brain from running.

What are you most looking forward to about Race Day?

I can’t wait to cross the finish line having seen thousands of people doing it when I was an organiser rather than a participant, but this time it’ll be me! I want to be able to enjoy taking in the sights, the people, the cheers and the music and I’m going to make sure I have enough in me at the end to get that smiley photo as I cross the finish line!

What advice do you have for people wanting to sign up for a challenge such as a marathon?

I’ve found the long-distance challenges where you’re logging a few miles every day great for motivation, especially before any physical events returned. I’ve done the virtual Wales Coastal Path challenge as well as the virtual Route 66 and currently participating in Lands End to John O’Groats.  

When I cross that finish line on 3 October, I’ll know I’ve done it – if I never get a place for London ever again, that’s fine. But I’m already looking for the next thing. Of course, having lived in Cardiff most of my life, I’ll have to run the Cardiff Half Marathon at some point!

You can support Nic’s Marathon journey by donating to his Virgin Money Giving page.

Meet: Ed Wilson (Medicine 2017-)

Ed Wilson is in his fourth year of studying medicine at Cardiff University. He secured a charity space with Cardiff University for this year’s London Marathon and has chosen to fundraise for Cardiff University neuroscience and mental health research.

What inspired you to run the London Marathon for Cardiff University research?

The first race I ran was the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon in 2018 and it was a brilliant experience. That was the first bucket list running event – the second being the London Marathon. I’ve run for Cardiff University neuroscience and mental health research before, so I know all about the cause.

How’s training going?

I’ve been using the Run With Hal app which has been fantastic as it syncs from my Garmin watch but it’s good at not making me competitive with other people. I like my running watch for pacing, but I need to remember that it isn’t gospel, and it’s sometimes disheartening when you look at the exact distance you’ve run but still have so far to go!

How have you found fundraising?

My friends and family have been fantastic at networking to a greater number of people. I still have quite a few favours to call in! It’s been more difficult during the pandemic as I’m mindful of COVID-19 regulations in organising mass fundraising activities. It’s fantastic to think of how many charities are supported by London Marathon runners on the same day – as of 2020, the London Marathon has raised £1billion for good causes which is incredible to think of! 

What motivates you during long runs?

I listen to silly podcasts as for me it needs to be something silly enough that I don’t have to listen the whole time if I’m concentrating on my running. I really enjoy Off Menu with James Acaster and I’m also a massive cricket fan, so I listen to Tailenders which is a cricket podcast. It’s useful to have people talking so you always have company on those longer runs!

What are you most looking forward to about Race Day?

The route passes so many iconic sights but I’ve never really walked directly past them. I’m looking forward to celebrating with a cold beer and a burger – a classic celebratory meal. Also not having to worry for a few weeks about running! I’ve also seen a list of everything you can get by showing your medal over race weekend, so I’ll be milking it – there’s about 20 free things you can get!

What advice do you have for people wanting to sign up for a challenge such as a marathon?

I would just say do it, then you can think about the decision and the consequences afterwards! It’s been fantastic to have the opportunity to do something so amazing like the London Marathon, so I’d really recommend just going for it.

You can support Ed’s Marathon journey by donating to his Virgin Money Giving page.

Feeling inspired and up for a challenge? It may be too late to sign up for this year’s London Marathon, but there are still limited places left to join #TeamCardiff at the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon in March 2022. Plenty of time to start training!