Since 1994, when the Race for Life started, six million people have taken part and earned £457m to fund Cancer Research UK. TNT talks to some of the inspirational people involved.
Susan Fitzgerald, 34, from Gisborne in New Zealand, lives in Barbican. She works as a sports team manager for Cancer Research UK and is running in Clapham in July. It’s the first time she’s done anything like this.
Her strategy is to run with two friends, also Kiwis. “We’re all useless runners,” she laughs. “So we’ll all stick together.”
Fitzgerald has more than her fair share of experience of the disease, having lost one grandfather to prostate and bowel cancer, and seeing the other undergo successful treatment for the same type of the disease. Her aunt has also recently recovered from melanoma and Fitzgerald has had a breast cancer scare of her own. As such, the event will hold a lot of meaning for her.
“Race for Life is quite an emotional event,” she says. “And it’s unique because you’re doing it for the running but really everyone’s doing it for the cause. I’m confident I can do the distance, but for me the hardest part will be seeing everyone else finishing and being emotional as well.”
Phillipa Dunhill, a 34-year-old personal assistant from Earlsfield, ran the Race for Life with 14 friends last year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She says: “I got diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2010. While I was having chemotherapy I wanted something to aim for and I wanted to show people that despite having treatment, I was OK. Before the operation, I went on my friend’s hen do. She jokingly said ‘don’t make me do a marathon, but I might do a 5k’ – that got the ball rolling. Then I sent an email to my friends saying, ‘you all knew this was coming, who’s doing this with me?’”
She plans to do the same again this year in Clapham in July now she has been given the all clear – but she’s going for 10k this time, and has already raised £55. “There’s six of us running. I know a couple will definitely be running ahead and I’ll be lagging behind – not because I’ve been ill, but because I can’t bloody run.”
And that’s the best thing about Race for Life – you don’t have to be superfit, plus the organisation provides all the training information and advice you need.
Fitzgerald says: “I’m not actually nervous because I know that on the day you’re so supported, and everyone is in the same boat – you’ve just got to do it.”
Dunhill’s tip is to not push yourself. “At the end of the day it’s for charity. It’s good fun, even if you haven’t got an involvement with cancer, it’s still great to take part in.
“It was great fun doing it with friends, we all dressed up in bright pink leggings, I had wings on. I remember the last 100m, I had this sudden energy surge – I literally bounded across the finish line.”
Race in London
Battersea Park, Wed Jun 13, 7pm. 5k
Blackheath, Sun Jul 1, 10.30am. 5k. 10k at 2pm
Clapham, Wed Jul 4, 7pm. 5k & 10k
Croydon, Sun Jul 22, 11am. 5k
Crystal Palace, Sun Jul 10, 11am. 5k
Enfield, Sun Jun 17, 11am. 5k
Finsbury Park, Sat Jul 7, 10.30am. 5k & 10k
Hammersmith, Wed Jul 11, 7pm. 5k & 10k
Hampstead, Sat Jun 9, 11am. 5k
Hillingdon, Sun Jun 24, 11am. 5k
Hyde Park, Sun May 27, 11am. 5k
Regent’s Park, Sat Jul 14, 11am. 5k
Richmond, Sun July 15, 11am & 2pm. 5k.
Watford, Sun Jun 17, 11am. 5k