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Welsh weather presenter takes on Cardiff Half Marathon to tackle homelessness

BBC weather presenter Sue Charles ahead of Cardiff Half Marathon 2023

BBC Wales journalist and weather presenter, Sue Charles, has joined the Team Wallich runners taking on the 2023 Cardiff Half Marathon. 

The Cardiff Half Marathon is a 13.1 mile race renowned for its flat, fast and iconic course through the Welsh capital. Year-on-year it has become increasingly popular, attracting runners of all ages and abilities. In 2022, 59 incredible runners took part in the Cardiff Half on behalf of The Wallich. As Sue gears up to represent The Wallich and people experiencing homelessness, we got in touch with Sue to find out more. 

Why did you decide to raise money for a homelessness charity and choose The Wallich as your charity? 

“I work for BBC Wales and when we moved to Cardiff city centre a few years ago, I found myself working in this new, high tech building – a cutting edge centre of broadcasting technology. But I’d go out in my lunch break and it would be such a contrast, walking out of this impressive centre, straight onto the streets – I couldn’t get over the number of homeless people. I felt incredibly sad seeing so many people with next to nothing. I couldn’t help but think, well most of us have got warm homes to go to tonight, but others are left here with nowhere to go, in the freezing cold 

I put something on Twitter and one of the managers at The Wallich, Mike, got in touch. We had a conversation, and I relayed the stark contrast from working in this brand-new broadcast centre to heading out on the street.  

I know after speaking to The Wallich about what more we could do, that any help through fundraising and raising awareness is always welcome. I’m fundraising through my JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sue-charles01. I will be sharing this with friends, family and on social media. Hopefully we can raise funds for The Wallich and raise awareness from there.” 

Why should people donate to support people experiencing homelessness in Wales? 

“I’m one of those people who buys the Big Issue – and frankly, it’s a bigger issue than ever. I became more aware after reading the Nick Hornby novel, How To Be Good, which is about homelessness. It made me more sensitive to some complex issues.  

Then recently, after having a chat with The Wallich, I became more aware of the work they do, tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. They work side by side with people to help them rebuild their lives and move away from homelessness. It seems such a good cause to support people and help them beyond this crisis. From providing emergency accommodation to supporting people with their mental health.”

How is your training going? Have you run a half marathon before? 

“I’m only just starting to fundraise because I wanted to be sure I could do the half marathon distance. I didn’t want to promise that I could, and then let people down. I haven’t run one for a few years. I had a bit of a block. My health and fitness was affected by Covid. And a few years ago, I ran a half marathon for a different charity. One mile in, I tore my hamstring and it was quite painful. In my head, I thought, I’ve raised all this money, I can’t let them down. It was agony – I finished the race, but I ended up with quite a bad hamstring and leg injury. That experience has made me a bit less cavalier, and a bit more realistic. It made me realise that it isn’t something that you can undertake without doing the training. I recently did the Barry 10k and the Cardiff 10k and thought, I can probably build up to this.

It’s all about expectation management these days – it won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty, but I think I can manage to do it! I’ve run a few half marathons, but I just have to accept that I can’t run as well in my late 40s as I could in my 30s. When I was running well, I managed to do the half in 1 hour 50 minutes, I think that’s my PB. I will be running it in well over two hours now. The older I get, the more I have to make time for recovery. Yoga becomes a good friend! I went out for a 15k run last week. I say a run, it was more of a plod. The sense of achievement this time around won’t be about the speed of the running. It’ll be about raising money and awareness for homeless people who need our help.”

How do you think weather affects homelessness?  

“When the weather is mild, people experiencing homelessness can seek refuge in different ways. But exposure to heat and its effects on underlying health problems can cause issues. 

Then of course in winter people need to seek warmth, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. Shelters can begin to fill up because people experiencing homelessness lack access to vital resources such as winter clothes and warm shelters. 

Also, we are now seeing climate change and extreme weather on a global scale and how that can leave people without homes and limited resources for help.” 

Do you have any weather predictions for the day of the Cardiff Half Marathon?  

“Ask me a few days before! Seriously though, we’ll have more confidence with our weather predictions closer to the day. Several thousand of us recently ran Cardiff 10k in unseasonably warm weather for early September. Temperatures were in the high 20s, which was not particularly pleasant for running. 

I’m not a fan of running in the rain. I enjoy a little bit of sunshine, but overheating is a big problem for a lot of people – it’s a fine balance. Perfect running conditions for me – bright spells, patchy cloud, temperatures somewhere in the mid-teens. But I guess ideal running weather varies from person to person.”

Follow Sue’s training journey 

Twitter – @Sue_Charles

Instagram – @Suecharlesbbc