MORE than 1,200 people joined rugby legend Shane Williams in the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games at Cardiff’s Bute Park.
About 70,000 people across the UK signed up to take part in events last weekend. Half of the money raised goes towards those in most need of help in the UK, with the other half used to help people across the world.
The first race was launched by Shane Williams who won 91 international caps, holds the record for most tries scored by a Welshman, and in 2008 was named IRB World Player of the Year. But he was still impressed by the Sport Relief efforts.
“The cause is incredible,” said Williams.
“We all know what the funding goes towards both in the UK and worldwide and the good thing about Sport Relief is everyone enjoys it and they have fun.
“Everyone can participate, you don’t have to be the world’s fastest or the world’s strongest, it’s all about going out there and enjoying yourself.
“Despite the fact it was a tough run, you can have a chat along the way and a couple of selfies whilst you’re running as well.”
In a rugby-mad nation such as Wales, where rugby players are idolised, Williams has pledged to use his profile to help those most in need.
“I’m involved in 10 charities world-wide and locally,” Williams said.
“I do work with Velindre Cancer Centre, Ty Hafan, and local charities, so there are none in particular where I am going to say this is the charity I am most proud of being involved in because I try and raise as much money and profile for as many charities as I can.
“It gives me massive satisfaction just getting involved, helping out and raising funds even if it’s just putting a smile on some kids face then so be it.
“I was running today with children who have disabilities and I find myself very lucky for what I have got and I’ve got to help people like this.”
Sainsbury’s Sport Relief has been hugely successful in changing the lives of many people. One person who is well placed to testify to this is Linda James, who is the Chief Executive of Bullies Out charity.
“We cover cyber bulling and bullying through texting,” she said.
“One of our first resources is we provide E-mentoring for young people affected by bullying. We also have a workshop on the various apps people use.
So how did Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Flagship Games aid Mrs James’ aim of eliminating cyber-bullying?
Mrs James said: “It isn’t just about the money, it’s about the awareness that’s raised.
“We are 10 years old this year and there are thousands in South Wales who have still never heard of us.
“We have always had to keep our marketing low level and it is hard to let people know we are there. So when we took part in the Flagship Games it made far more people aware of how we could help them and the work we do.
“It was really good to raise awareness and it got a lot of young people to come forward.”
Among those competing on Sunday were good friends Susan Sidford, 52, and Fiona Hibbard, 35, who both hail from Bridgend.
“I do it every year and the running is made easier because it’s for a really good cause,” said Mrs Sidford.
“There are so many great causes but I am particularly keen to help the homeless.”
Mrs Hibbard echoed her friend’s words: “It’s for a very good cause, and it’s very enjoyable.”
Rob Smyth, 27, and Kate Derrick, 29, both from Bristol had both recorded personal bests in Saturday’s run.
Miss Derrick said: “It’s such a great cause, an awesome day out and to top it all off I’ve reached a personal best of 28.40 on the six mile run.”
“I recorded a good time of 27.20, but, in all honesty, I’m just glad I didn’t die,” joked Mr Smyth.
“That was really hard, but it was worth it because it’s for such a great cause.”
Katie Roberts, 30, and her partner Justin Keevill, 31, both from Bristol were also full of praise for the event.
“What’s so good about Sport Relief is the fact that money is raised for a multitude of causes, not just one,” said Miss Roberts.
Mr Keevill said: “I think it’s a great cause, but as this is my first time and I don’t do much running Katie had to twist my arm.”