7 young people from Wrexham successfully completed the Cardiff Half Marathon on 1 October with a little help from Gareth “Alfie” Thomas and international running coach James Thie.

The 7 undertook a gruelling training and nutritional schedule as part of Alfie’s Army which started in Cardiff in June with a 2 mile trial jog around Bute Park so James and Alfie could see their levels of fitness. This is where the reality set in as some started to struggle as they didn’t really do much exercise!

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A change in lifestyle

Training then began. Wrexham’s Senedd yr Ifanc and Wrexham Youth Service both supported training sessions on a weekly basis and supported the young people to attend sessions with run4wales and with Alfie and James in Cardiff. All 7 had to start to change their lifestyles to be able to train properly for the challenge.

The weekend of the Half Marathon arrived and began with a relaxing morning in the capital and even some crazy golf. Then it was off to meet with Alfie and James in preparation for Sunday’s half marathon. That was when the weekend changed! They were drilled off their bus by army drill sergeants as soon as they got to their training and quickly made to line up ready for action. Alfie was marched into the centre of the young people while they watched Alfie get the full army treatment! He was drilled to run, jog, get down and crawl, jog on the spot, do press ups and this went on for quite a while.  Our young people thought they were next!

To their relief they were put into teams and were coached to do team building activities including a large inflatable assault course. The drill sergeants motivated the young people but were also very supportive and the 7 actually said that they’d “had fun” although they were tired. A Pasta Party and a motivational speech from Alfie finished the day then it was early to bed ready for the next day and the challenges ahead.

“going through many emotions”

The day of the half marathon began with a good filling and healthy breakfast. Inside Cardiff Castle they warmed up and prepared for the half marathon. The atmosphere was fantastic and the 7 were going through many emotions but the cheers and support for all Alfie’s Army encouraged them all to get ready to go and do their run. The encouragement stayed all the way along the 13.1 miles with everyone cheering and shouting out encouragement. All the young people agreed the crowd and Alfie’s support helped them through to the end.

The first past the finish line from Wrexham came through in just over 1 hour and 49 minutes followed by the remaining 6. They had all had their doubts and fears leading up to the run but all 7 completed the challenge and now have the medals to prove it!

Tricia Jones, Jade Griffith, Chloe Roberts, Gareth “ALFIE” Thomas, Mia Jeffs, Sam Sides, Jordan Jackson and Yasmin Sides

Some of the young people even passed on some thank you messages to be sent to Alfie

“really good experience”

“It was a really good experience. Alfie’s Army has 100% given me the motivation to become more active and healthier in my life and I am so grateful for the experience”

“Alfie’s Army has been a great motivation to get active and I’m grateful for the amazing experience”

“Alfie’s Army is an experience I am never going to forget!!! I am so grateful for all the help but also the support everyone has given – it has motivated me to become healthier”

“Thank you for the opportunity and it’s an experience I will never forget”

“An incredible achievement”

Cllr Paul Rogers, Lead Member for Youth Services and Anti Poverty, said;

“It’s an incredible achievement and all seven should be very proud of themselves. Their hard work has paid off and I wish them well for their futures.  Well done everyone!”

4 charities will also benefit from the challenge, they are the Gunjur Project, Hope House Hospice, Nightingale House and the Autistic Society.

All the young people would like to pass on their thanks to everyone who has supported their charities.

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