21 Jun

Racing To Beat Cancer

Race for Life participants

Last month the first of 230 of this year's Race for Life events took place. The Cancer Research UK women-only runs are a charity phenomenon of recent times. This year marks the 20th year of the series of largely 5k runs and they show no sign of slowing up.

They have become as synonymous with the British summertime as cricket on the green, school fetes and music festivals. The masses of pink t-shirts and the distinctive race bibs make at least one annual appearance at the bulk of parks across the UK.

This year's events run through to October, with several opportunities to take part in the extended 10k distance too. Since Race for Life was launched in 1994, over six million women have taken part, raising an incredible £493m in the fight against cancer.

Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the country. On average, every two minutes someone in the UK is told they have cancer. Around 0.3million people are diagnosed with cancer on a yearly basis, meaning there are millions of families living with the disease.

But thanks to the increasingly sophisticated scientific work of organisations such as Cancer Research UK, survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years. There is hope and it is the spirit of hope that thrives at every Race for Life event. As most people who have attended Race for Life will attest, it can be an incredibly moving experience.

Participants come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life, brought together in a common cause. What make the event particularly emotive are the hand-written messages on the race bibs worn by every runner. Seeing just a single runner with a message paying tribute to a close relative - sometimes even a son or daughter - is poignant. Seeing thousands more similar messages can be deeply moving. For those who have never attended an event to support a friend or relative, it is a spectacle well worth witnessing.

You will find it hard to walk away unaffected by what you have seen and are virtually guaranteed to be more inclined to lend your support to this enormously worthy cause in the future. For those who have not yet signed up to this year's Race for Life, there is still time and still plenty of events yet to come.

Visit the Race for Life website and play your part in one of the great charity campaigns of our time.