Angelica Salele-Sefo – Masters Student at Swansea University 

Meet Angelica, a Communications Professional from Samoa, currently studying at Swansea University. Angelica recently signed up for the Swansea Half Marathon, not considering herself a runner, but motivated by the cause: mental health and cancer research. As a full-time Masters student, being away from her family in Samoa has been tough, but just like running the half marathon, Angelica is determined to see it through. Join us as we delve deeper into Angelica's inspiring story.

Why did you want to run Swansea Half Marathon? 

Signing up for the half marathon was a half-baked idea, that I did almost on a whim. A “just sign up and figure it out later” scenario that, had I let myself sleep on, I most likely would have talked myself out of by morning. But I am so grateful that I did just jump right in without letting my brain talk me out of it. For me, the cause and beneficiaries of the run really sit at the heart of the things. I have always wanted to make an impact, big or small, towards mental health and cancer research.

What does it mean to you personally? 

On a personal note, I have never run a half marathon, nor do I consider myself a “runner”. However, this year’s theme ‘Making strides for mental health’ resonated deeply with me.

I am a Masters student studying at Swansea University, and I wasn’t able to bring my family with me to the UK. The decision to come alone and study full time was not an easy one for me or my husband. We knew it was important for my career, but also for the very simple yet cliché reason familiar to every parent - to set a good example to our children, that you CAN do and be anything you choose to be. And I mean that in ways far greater than education or profession. Sometimes people have children and expect them to grow up and be exactly what they prayed and hoped they’d be. But children are amazing at defying every preconceived idea you might have about them. Think they’ll aspire to be like you? You should be so lucky. More often than not, they’ll end up being something like the opposite of you or what you wanted them to be. And that is a great thing.

As a parent, it’s our job to guide and support our children to face their challenges, and to help them navigate this wonderful yet wild world we live in. It’s not our job to mould them into who WE want them to be, but into who they ARE. And I think so many mental health issues stem from childhood trauma, perpetuated by parents who are themselves traumatised from their own childhood – and the cycle continues.

In truth, I have not always gotten it right and have struggled to be the parent my kids deserve. But I hope in the ways that count, I can get it right now. And for me, it looks like following through and doing the hard things I sign up for, despite grappling with the fear of failure every day.

Whether that’s going back to school and getting the degree you’ve always wanted, or running a half marathon because you believe in the causes behind it. Whatever it is that YOU, the person and not the parent want to do or achieve, you owe it to yourself and your kids to see it through.

"This run quite literally feels like the physical embodiment of a race I am already running: the race to complete my degree this year; the race to be a good mother; the race to be a good spouse, daughter, friend, person. And participation, for me, is winning."

Tell us why better mental health is important to you.

I am a very emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And for the most part, I love that about myself. It enriches my friendships and relationships and makes life incredibly beautiful to be able to feel every possible emotion without fear or shame. But the flip side of that is I can overthink and drive myself to feeling too much, following both positive AND negative feelings all the way over the edge. Mental health is so important for wellbeing, and having support is crucial to ensuring you can regulate the highs and lows that are natural and expected in life. Some of us are blessed with greater capabilities to maintain mental health, but most of us struggle. Rather than suffering in silence, we need to encourage one another to seek help, find support, reach out – especially when you think you can’t or shouldn’t or that no one will care. Because, I promise, people do care. You just have to look at the number of people running in this year’s Swansea Half Marathon to see that so many people care.

Have you run competitively before? 

No. This will be my first.

Tell us about how you’ll be training in the run up to the race. 

I started training when I signed up, with a beginnings training programme I received by email from the event organisers – thank you guys! It’s been six weeks now and I’m surprised that I’ve stuck with it, and I have to thank the fear of running a half marathon in June for that. It’s motivated me on my worst days to realise in less than three months I’ll be in a race whether I’ve prepared for it or not. So I might as well do myself a huge favour and ensure I prepare for it now!

Tell us about anything special you’ll be doing to fundraise

I have shared it across my social media channels, which has been really effective already (I am so grateful to those who’ve already donated – thank you and bless you all!). I am also planning a bake sale with friends.