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“I was convinced I’d never be able to run again”: taking on the Cardiff Half for cancer research

1 March 2024

Alumnus and university staff member Abyd Quinn-Aziz (MPhil 2012) has been a keen runner since his youth. Following some health problems, he’s recently returned to running and has set himself the challenge of this October’s Cardiff Half Marathon.

I used to run regularly and have run the Cardiff Half a few times before, as well as full marathons. But recently I’ve had a break as I’ve been struggling with long COVID. Six months ago, I couldn’t run a mile without having to stop, so this is about building up my strength and getting back into it. I don’t want to get out of breath walking upstairs anymore.

As well as doing this for my own health, I’m running with #TeamCardiff to fundraise for cancer research at Cardiff University. My wife Sue was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017 and despite treatment, it came back in 2019. She was told she would need a massive surgery to save her life, something that wasn’t available in Wales. She had to move to Birmingham to get this innovative surgery – but it worked, and she’s now cancer free.

Throughout Sue’s treatment, my running buddy Paul was there for me. We were friends for 20 years and he saw me through some dark times. He was a loyal friend and a lovely man. Devastatingly, he received his own diagnosis of cancer in 2022 and died very quickly. Sue and Paul are why I’m raising money for cancer research. I want to do my bit to help improve earlier diagnosis and the development of better treatments that are available to everyone.

I ran at school and for the first few years of university but gave up, and only returned to running in my forties after my son was born. I wanted to make sure I could keep up with him! I began jogging around Penarth and eventually joined the Penarth and Dinas Runners. The club was so welcoming, I got back into distance running, and after a bit of convincing, I started to take on marathons.

One of the main things running does for me is give me a space to get away from work and stuff, just be out with someone chatting about everything and nothing. It helps my mental wellbeing and obviously there are physical health benefits too. Although sometimes after a hill session it doesn’t feel like there’s any benefit to it at all!

More recently, after being ill I was on the verge of getting rid of all my running stuff, as I was convinced I’d never be able to run again. But with the support of the club, family, and friends, I’m back out there and getting stronger every day. To help get my fitness back up, I joined a Couch to 5K programme which just got me back into the rhythm of running three times a week. That brought back that positive feeling and the positivity after running.

My advice to any new runners is to remember that running is actually good fun, even though it might not feel like it at the time! I love getting out there and coming home with a ‘deserved’ tired feeling rather than just a tired-from-work feeling. I’m looking forward to the camaraderie of race day. There’s a buzz of being with a group of people, all doing the same thing. The route is great too, and I love running around the Bay. And crossing the finish line in front of the Glamorgan Building, where I work, is great!

Support Abyd 

Show your support for Abyd and help him hit his fundraising target. Sponsor Abyd on JustGiving.

Run Cardiff Half Marathon in 2024 

Run Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday 6 October and raise money for Cardiff University’s neuroscience and mental health, or cancer research. Apply for one of #TeamCardiff’s limited charity places. 

Or if you fancy taking on a bigger challenge, we also have limited charity places to run the ABP Newport Wales Marathon on 28 April 2024. 

To find out more about fundraising at Cardiff University, contact