*I work part-time for This Mum Runs as Community Coordinator for Cardiff. However this article about the Cardiff Bay 10K is not something they have asked me to write; I’m doing it because I felt so inspired after yesterday and wanted to help spread the word.
“When women support each other, great things happen.”
These words have been floating around my head constantly since yesterday’s Cardiff Bay 10K.
Yes, women can and do achieve great things on their own… but when we work together, when we inspire, motivate and empower each other, we can achieve more than we ever thought possible.
I was blown away by just how much of this was in evidence at yesterday’s Run4Wales Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay 10K.
I was there both as a runner in the 10K and with my children in the family 2K, and also as part of my role as Cardiff Community Leader for This Mum Runs, a free national social running community for women, which launched in the Welsh capital at the start of March.
After our launch in Bute Park at the start of the month, and three weeks of free weekly runs at Roath Park, the Cardiff Bay 10K was the first local event where This Mum Runs Cardiff had an official stand in the race village, and where our members were able to meet up before and after the event.
It coincided with Mother’s Day and the clocks going forward an hour so it would have been the perfect reason for mums to have a well-deserved lie-in. So how empowering then to see so many of them using their day to take on the 10K, and to see so many families running together in the family fun run 2K.
What I loved most about This Mum Runs being at the event was that we were able to bring women together before, during and after the run.
I’ve taken part in several events since I re-started running around 15 months ago. And most of those I’ve turned up to on my own. My family have sometimes been there to cheer me on, and I sometimes bump into people I know, but other than a couple of exceptions where I’ve arranged to meet a friend, I’ve wandered around on my own at the start, I’ve waited in the pens on my own, I’ve run on my own and I’ve celebrated on my own as I crossed that finishing line.
Yesterday was such a different experience. I lost count of the number of women who came by the This Mum Runs tent before and after the 2K and 10K. We warmed up together, we were able to team up women of similar running speeds so that they could run together, and we celebrated our successes together.
Our day started with This Mum Runs leading the official warm up for the 2K family run. Tanya, one of our Run Angel volunteers who leads our free weekly runs, was on the microphone, with myself and Run Angel Sara as support. Tanya guided the children and their families through a series of fun movements to get their muscles working ahead of the run. We were joined at the front by Welsh TV weather presenters Sue Charles and Derek ‘the Weatherman’ Brockway, who officially started the race. I also want to mention Run Angel Rhian who completed our team of four for the day, and who was up at the crack of dawn to help set things up.
My three children did fantastically well with the 2K. They’ve taken part in a few running events now and loved getting another medal to add to their collection. They also loved meeting the children of the other TMR mums and keep asking when they can next go running together.
We had a fantastic turn out at the TMR tent – sadly the photos don’t do the numbers justice as huge queues at the loos meant a lot of women missed our group photos.
But it was great to meet the women who have been following This Mum Runs on social media and coming to our weekly runs. Some of them told us that this was their first 10K and that they’d been encouraged to sign up because they’d seen that so many other woman in the group were doing it and they knew they’d be supported. We’ve only been going for a month but already friendships are forming between women and it was great to see this in evidence yesterday.
Knowing how anxious it can feel waiting for a run to start on your own, we were able to offer a warm up before the race, and we also teamed up women who were running similar distances so that they could head over to the starting pens together and, if they wanted company, run together.
We had one group of around six who were all hoping to get a time of less than an hour – a magic number for 10K runners. They all kept a good pace together and achieved their goal, telling me how much fun they’d had along the way. Another group hit their 1hr 15 goal by running together. One, who took seven minutes off her previous 10K time, commented that she always thought she didn’t like running with other people, but TMR has shown her that actually she does.
One mum had a wobble before the race saying she was going to pull out because she couldn’t do it. Our Run Angel Tanya stepped in and told her she would run every step with her and make sure she got that medal. They absolutely did it.
Our This Mum Runs Cardiff Facebook page is full of other inspiring stories and photos of women wearing the medals and finisher t-shirts with pride. Some have commented that they now feel confident enough to take on the Cardiff Half Marathon in October (which looks set to have a female majority for the first time!) – because the support from the group makes them feel supported.
We have welcomed a few new members into the group since meeting them on the stall yesterday.
The response in Cardiff to us launching here has been incredible and I feel so proud to be a part of that. I only wish they’d launched a year previously when I was just starting out again after more than 10 years of not running at all and was too embarrassed to tell anyone in case they laughed at me for being rubbish. (Guess what? No one ever laughed at me. Other runners have been nothing but supportive.)
If you’re a woman who runs (you don’t have to be a mum and if you are a mum it doesn’t matter what age your children are) and would like to become part of a friendly and supportive community then we would love you to join the This Mum Runs Cardiff Facebook group and to come along to our free weekly runs. These are currently held at Roath Lake on Sundays at 8am and Wednesdays at 7.30pm with 30 minute, 45 minute and 60 minute runs available (we have plans to expand across the city and plans to support beginner runners too – details to come!). The distances are approximately 4K, 6K and 8K and our runs are child/buggy/dog/men-free. We operate a system called looping where if the faster runners get ahead, they turn back on themselves and join the back of the group ensuring no one is left behind.
Time and pace are not important to This Mum Runs (although we are super proud of those who set their own PBs and see their times improving). We love supporting women to get out running, to help them to make time for much-needed headspace away from family and work, to meet new people through our weekly runs, and to feel supported and valued through our online communities.