Meet The Coopah Refugee Runners Taking On Oxford Half 2022

We are incredibly proud to have Hamzah, Bashar and Fthawi joining us on the Oxford start line, 16 October 2022. Before race day we wanted to catch up with them to hear a little more about their journey to the start line.


Hamzah is 22 years old and has spent the last 14 months in the UK, living in Birmingham. He’s been through a number of Refugee accommodations but is now happy to be based in a flat where he can enjoy his own cooking.

Hamzah is originally from Yemen, where their family were unfortunately forced to leave. They fled to nearby Sudan but it became so unsafe for them that they weren’t even able to leave the house.

Since arriving in the UK he’s been trying to get qualifications in order to be able to work and has recently been accepted into University; which is a huge achievement. As well as studying, Hamzah has been volunteering with a number of charities to help give back to the local community.

Joining the Refugee Run Club has changed Hamzah’s life. He says that getting up each day became difficult with the trauma of his past and the uncertainty of his future, but training has given him a purpose seeing his improvements each day has given him a real motivation to continue to improve. He has his eyes set on running a Marathon one day and hopes to get under 1 hour 20 for the Oxford Half. He has already improved his ParkRun time from 24:14 to 17:51 in 4 months!


Bashar is Hamzah’s brother and had the same tough upbringing which saw him fleeing both Yemen and Sudan due to his and his family’s safety.

Bashar is just 19 years old and has been in the UK for 14 months. He was originally placed in Derby but has recently moved to Birmingham, being closer to his brother.

Bashar has always had a passion for sport and in Yemen growing up he was a talented footballer. He wanted to become a professional and still sees sport as a huge part of his life. He joined the Refugee Run Club along with Hamzah to help himself integrate into society, improve his English and of course be able to beat his brother in the upcoming Oxford Half Marathon.


Fthawi is a 25 year old Eritrean. He left the war torn country over 14 months ago before arriving in the UK. Since then he has lived in a refugee hotel near the centre of Birmingham.

Fthawi is a devout Christian and has spent time in the UK integrating himself into the church and many of their events.

Fthawi is a naturally talented runner who had run occasionally in Eritrea but never raced or trained with any structure. He was inspired by the great Zersenay Tadese to get into running and now wants to show that Eritrea can be known for its talented long distance runners like many other East African countries. Since coming to the UK he has been determined to run a marathon so joining the Refugee Run Club has helped him train and meet others that will help him get there. In only his second ParkRun he ran 19:16!

Each of their journeys are truly inspirational and we cannot wait to see them take on the Oxford Half. The work which Coopah is doing is incredible and we are so proud to be working with them at this year’s event. Be sure to check out their website to follow the work which they are doing.

You can support the Refugees by signing up to one of Coopah’s personalised training plans. For every signup Coophah gets, they support another refugee by giving them a unlimited coaching, kit and race entries – supported by LimeLight Sports Club.

As a LimeLight runner you get one month free access to Coopah; simply enter LL22 in the club code.