Why running puts the biggest smile on my face!

Why running puts the biggest smile on my face!

With many cadets, volunteers, parents and staff taking part in our My Mighty Marathon challenge this New Year, we thought we would ask some of them about their activities. Charlie Maling, a Training Development Officer in the national office, is a keen runner and shares how she started the New Year…

It was 9 am on 1 January 2019 and I was jogging down to the local underground station. Quite a few partygoers were still wandering in the opposite direction, after plenty of New Year’s Eve merriment! So why was I in bed at ten and jumping up early on New Year’s Day rather than ‘going out and having fun’?

The answer is that on 1 January every year, Serpentine Running Club host their New Year’s Day 10k race in Hyde Park. Ten kilometres of brisk, chilly winter morning racing – for most, run on a sore head. For me, though, running hard on the first day of a new year sets the tone for the way I want the next 364 to go.

I jogged from Marble Arch to the race start where my friends were waiting. We dropped our bags and started to warm up. It was lovely to be out chatting and socialising rather than complaining about a hangover! At eleven am, we lined up on the packed and buzzing start line waiting for the final countdown.

Three…two…one… we were off! It was cold enough that my shoelaces felt like tiny whips against my ankles and I huddled in behind taller runners for the first couple of miles to keep out of the wind. Nevertheless, I have never felt so strong! I didn’t want to begin my new year with the guilty feeling of having indulged too much over Christmas. I wanted to begin by achieving something, by setting the bar for the year ahead. My goal was to run a PB (personal best) and to finally dip under 40 minutes for 10km. I felt great throughout the race – it was fun to look at the startled stares of dog walkers who had dragged themselves out for their pets’ first walk of the year, and I even relished pushing through the pain barrier at 7km, overtaking those who had set off too fast or had a drink too many the night before. Even the bit at the end where I had to dodge two geese and a squirrel was exhilarating.

I finished the race in 39 minutes 13 seconds, joined minutes later by two of my female team-mates, which meant we won the team prize! The race photos say it all – I was grinning all over my face. Beginning the year with a hard, fast run leaves me feeling like I can do anything I put my mind to. It leaves me feeling strong and determined. And best of all, running in the morning means I can eat as much as I like for brunch!

If you’re taking part in My Mighty Marathon, whether you’re doing one mile at a time or tackling all of them at once, get in touch and tell us about it at!

Bobby's South Korea International Exchange

Bobby's South Korea International Exchange

This exchange has been the time of my life. I came away with an open mind and willing to do anything that I was asked to do, and safe to say, that’s exactly what I have done. No was not an answer for me on this trip. From the minute we arrived In the airport, we were greeted with a happy and excited face, and for all the Korean staff, this continued the whole way through, as well as the cadets and escort officers.

Each and every day was jam-packed with fun and exciting activities. I was really excited when I first got the itinerary because of all the activities that we were taking part in. From visiting the DMZ, to having the most fun possible in Everland and Caribbean Bay. The itinerary really accommodated everyone and it was a good balance of activities from cultural, to fun, to water activities. There was something for everyone and from what I could see, everyone really enjoyed themselves!


I came away not knowing what to expect and I think that was the best thing to do. I wanted everything to come as a surprise as South Korea has a completely different style of living than home in Northern Ireland. The one thing that really hit me was the heat. Literally! Coming from a country that usually has a temperature of around 14°C and no humidity, to a country with an average 36°C and very high humidity, it was hard to get used to! But hey, I’m not complaining, I got to work on my suntan...


I can’t choose a favourite between all of the activities. But the ones that stood out the most were the visit to the Navy Fleet, the DMZ Tour, and the day out to Caribbean Bay and Everland. But as I said, I thoroughly enjoyed every other activity.



I can’t thank the Korean staff enough for making this trip the best it could be. We were treated like royalty from the moment we arrived until the second we left! And nothing was a problem for them, everything was done with a smiling face. I really enjoyed teaching Cindy how to speak Northern Irish. What’s the craic?! It’s boiling! Fish and chips!!

The one thing that really got to me was that the Hard Rock Café Seoul was closed for renovation. But I understand, it isn’t your fault!


I have to say though, the water activities were amazing. Participating in the SEK National Regatta was an amazing experience. Competing against each other in various events was very fun. And the fun water activities like the water slide, banana boating and kayaking were also amazing.


I found that every cadet who participated in the exchange clicked straight away. Yes, there were language barriers etc but we did find ways to overcome these, and by the second day, we were all like one family!


I enjoyed all the activities but I also enjoyed going out at night time. Even the simple trips to the convenience store. I thought this was a great opportunity for the group to ‘mingle’ even more than what we already did. The first night when we arrived and went to the convenience store and Olympic Torch when all the group was together was amazing because everybody started talking straight away and the Korean staff really made everyone feel welcome.



I can’t thank everybody enough for making my birthday amazing. I really wasn’t expecting to come out of a lift and get attached with balloons and singing but I really did appreciate it. I thought it was a really good idea with putting the papers up on the wall and getting everyone to write a message because that is something that each person will cherish forever! And the gift exchange... I wasn’t expecting to be bombarded with so many different gifts from everyone but it helped to make the experience. But this will also be something that I’ll keep forever!


Lastly, I want to give my thanks to Alex, who made this exchange possible for not just me, but for every cadet within the United Kingdom who got selected to go on the exchange. You really did give us the experience of a lifetime!

Get your applications in as soon as possible. I can assure you, you will not regret it!


Good luck!



Able Cadet Bobby, 16, from Lisburn, took part in the Sea Cadets International Exchange 2018. To find out more about our International Exchange programme contact

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