Mafia Moves was founded by Track Mafia coach and runner Andre Coggins (back row, fourth from left), who wanted to create a safe, expressive space for beginners and experienced movers. We talked to Andre about how the group aims to move as one to change the lives of many – which is what The Big Half’s WeRunAsOne campaign is all about…
How has this year been for you?
Tough to say the least, from battling with solo training during the pandemic and keeping people motivated and engaged during the tough times to not having a safe and sheltered facility in the community to conduct our sessions in the winter. We fortunately overcame the last barrier as the weather improved and recreational restrictions were eased. Throughout the pandemic, we have stayed consistent with communication and wellbeing through social media, which has helped many of our movers.
How has running helped your mental and physical health during the last 18 months?
Lockdown has affected the mental health of many individuals due to various factors. Bereavement, loss of jobs, housing and social freedom to mention a few. All the factors have impacted us whether that be positively or negatively and, going forward, we need to have relevant support networks in place to aid the recovery during this challenging time.
We are very fortunate to have running as a coping mechanism for our physical and emotional wellbeing.
What does community mean to you?
Community means everything to me! From being safe by seeing regular faces in the area, to bringing opportunities and experiences to people who may have not had the chance if the community cohesion wasn’t present.
Being part of a community shows a sense of belonging. At Mafia Moves we embrace individuals from all cultural backgrounds and beliefs. We encourage our members to embrace their differences and express themselves through uniqueness.
Do you feel part of the wider running community?
I am part of a running community, but being part of the wider running community means so much more.
Why do you think people should take up running?
It is not only good for your physical health, it also plays a huge part in an individual’s emotional health too. You can have an awful day at school or work and that 30-minute run with a group can help release so much stress and build comfort.
Have you run The Big Half previously?
No, so I am very excited to take part this year. It will also be my first half marathon.
Why should people get involved?
Because it is a huge opportunity to challenge yourself and be part of something huge!
Why is it important to come together with others to ‘run as one’?
The Big Half will show you that you won’t be alone in this. There are many people like me who have had to overcome barriers throughout the pandemic or in their training phases and it will be an amazing experience to run with likeminded runners to the Finish Line
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event?
Conquering the 13.1 distance and also running alongside my running group members, who will be completing their first half marathons too. I am also looking forward to meeting other running crews and connecting with them pre- and post-event.