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Abigail runs for her life to raise funds for research

15 September 2016

A PCRF supporter from Llanedeyrn in Cardiff has gone from couch potato to aspiring half marathon runner in just 16 weeks, thanks to the hit BBC Wales TV series, Run for your Life.

In 2015, Welsh rugby legend Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas trained 16 unfit women from Deri in Wales  – dubbed Alfie’s Angels – in just 16 weeks, to successfully complete the Cardiff half marathon event. This year the producers upped the ante, asking for applications from 100 men and women who’d never run before and who wanted to kickstart a healthier lifestyle, to train to run the 2016 Cardiff Half Marathon on 02 October.

Being unfit and having type 2 diabetes, Abigail Swindail, 35, knew she fitted the bill. “I was a complete couch potato, but as a nurse for 16 years and now a health visitor, I knew I needed to practise what I preach. So when a Facebook friend asked for one more person to make up a team application to the programme, I thought ‘why the hell not?’ and signed up.

“It was a bit of a shock when we were selected – and when I first saw the training plan we were given! But it’s not only given me the impetus to improve my own health, it’s also given me a great opportunity to fundraise in memory of my father-in-law, Kevin, who died of pancreatic cancer in October last year. 

“Kevin died ten days after his diagnosis, and the bottom line is that this should not be happening in this day and age. As a health professional, I know you don’t make medical discoveries that can save lives without research, and that’s why I’m supporting PCRF.”

With just a few days to go before the Cardiff Half, Abi says: “Bring it on! Training’s been going well. I have a couple of niggly injuries, but they’ll heal. In fact at the moment I hurt all over, but that’s only to be expected when you’ve gone from zero running experience to half marathon in just 16 weeks. Whether I run, walk or stagger to finish the course, from where I started it will be an unbelievable achievement.

Despite the gruelling training regime, aches and pains, Abi says it’s been a fantastic experience so far.  “I completed my first 10k last recently and the crowd there were amazing, so if the atmosphere at the Cardiff Half is anything like that, we’ll all reach the finish line. We get brilliant support from Alfie and all the other Angels in our Facebook group, plus my husband Dan decided to run the Cardiff Half with me too. 

“This experience is transforming my life. I’ve lost a stone in weight and four inches off my body so far and I feel great. I’ve got the running bug now, and will definitely be carrying on.

“I’m proud to be one of Alfie’s Angels, and proud to be fundraising for such a great charity. And where the original 16 Alfie’s Angels inspired 100 more people, I can’t wait to see if our cohort inspires an even larger cohort next year.”

PCRF’s CEO, Maggie Blanks said: “We’re so proud of Abi taking on this huge commitment, and extremely grateful that she’s chosen to fundraise in Kevin’s memory for us. Good luck on the day, Abi – we know you can do it!”

l-r: Abi with friends Sarah, Emma, Angela and Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas

You can read more about Abi here:    

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