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It’s day two of Volunteers Week 2023 and R4W is celebrating the great contribution volunteers make to their local communities and (hopefully!) inspiring everyone to have a go at volunteering. Volunteers Week happens every year from 1st June to 7th June and is a national celebration to reward and recognise those who give up their time to make a difference.

At R4W we know the huge impact that local running clubs and groups have on runners journeys, providing support, coaching and motivation to keep going, whether you’re a new runner or an experienced one. We recently looked at the valuable contribution that volunteers make to these clubs in our blog post Reasons to get involved with sport volunteering.

Today we’re catching up with local Cardiff based running group She Runs Cardiff, set up in 2019, with the aim to provide friendly all-female social running group that welcomes women of all ages, backgrounds, paces and running experience.

She Runs: Cardiff has been a supporter of R4W events over the years and now are now regular hosts of the Roath Lake Water Station on the last leg of the Cardiff Half Marathon.

Tell us more about She Runs Cardiff? How did the group start?

She Runs Cardiff was set up in October 2019 by a group of around 30 women who all met through other running groups. We wanted to create a group with a relaxed atmosphere, with no pressure on pace and which felt welcoming to all women. We know lots of women don’t want to run on their own, either because they are concerned about safety or because they don’t feel confident, so we wanted to create an inclusive where women would feel fully supported.

“We want to help women gain confidence in their running and to step out of their comfort zone”

There are now around 30 Run Buddies who help lead our social runs and we have up to 50 women running with us at our regular runs on a Wednesday and Sunday.

Our online presence is also really strong and continues to grow – many women have never joined us at an in-person runs but they are valued members of our community. We don’t just have members in Cardiff or even just in Wales – we have women from all over the world, including as far away as New Zealand and India, who have discovered us on social media and share our ethos.

How has She Runs helped local female runners?

We know that having a supportive group cheering you on can have a huge impact on self-belief. Some people can run fast and that’s wonderful but our ethos is that it’s all about taking part.

“We celebrate every runner, we support runners of all paces and no one is ever too slow to run with us. At She Runs Cardiff we ‘party at the back’ ”

It’s wonderful to see our members growing in confidence. We have had some women who joined us as complete beginner runners and have now run half marathons, marathons and ultra marathons – achievements they had never imagined.

Our free Walk to Run programme has been hugely successful – all our courses so far have been fully booked. Often participants tell us they had been wanting to run for ages but just didn’t know where to start. We also offer a gradual build up from 5K to 10K at some of our social runs, helping those who would like to reach that next goal.

It’s also been important for us that our members feel supported at running events. We organise meet ups at any local event where we have members attending. It can be intimidating turning up and not knowing anyone!

How does She Runs impact local communities?

Supporting our local community is really important to us as a group. For example, we source our kit from local manufacturers and book small independent venues for our social events. Plus we love to support our local coffee shops after our Sunday social runs!

In 2022 and 2023, so far we have raised more than £20,000 for Big Moose Charity, a Cardiff-based charity which offers fast-access mental health support for anyone who needs it. Prior to this, we raised several thousand pounds for Cardiff Women’s Aid, Huggard Homeless Centre and Kidney Wales. It has been important to us to support charities that support local people.

Why are volunteers so important to grassroots running and sports?

Without volunteers our running group simply could not exist. Our Run Buddies give their time to lead our Sunday and Wednesday social runs and the Run Leaders give their time to offer training-based sessions. Volunteers run our social media pages, design our kit and social media graphics and organise our events.

“Absolutely everything we do is down to our volunteers. It is their passion, commitment and dedication that makes She Runs Cardiff the successful running community that it is”

Local running events can’t exist without volunteers either – hundreds, sometimes thousands, of volunteers are needed to ensure events can go ahead safely and smoothly. Our members have enjoyed volunteering at many local running events, including those organised by Run4Wales.

Last year a team of She Runs Cardiff volunteers supported Cardiff Half Marathon on the water station at Roath Lake, giving out drinks and cheering on runners, and we’ll be doing the same again this year. At Cardiff Bay 10K 2023 our members volunteered as pacers and at Newport Marathon 2023 a team of She Runners were the tail walkers, ensuring runners were supported throughout the event.

We’ve even done ‘Parkrun takeovers’ where every volunteer that week is a She Runs Cardiff member.

So many She Runs Cardiff members tell us that running has transformed their life – and that wouldn’t have happened without volunteers. Knowing how much of an impact running has had on our own lives leads lots of us to seek out ways of giving something back and to help others on their running journey.

To find out more about She Runs send them an email  or visit their social media pages:

Feeling inspired? Looking for a running club in your area? Click here for advice on finding a running club in your area.

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