THOUSANDS of women in Brentwood joined the biggest fight against cancer by taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life at Weald Country Park on Saturday.
Mums, grans, aunties, friends and workmates joined together in the sweltering heat in a spectacular array of fairy wings, feather boas and fancy dress.
Survivor, Karen Lane from Doddinghurst kicked off the day’s event with a motivational speech and was surrounded by her family and friends for support.
Karen (pictured centre in pink) was diagnosed with bowel cancer in July 2009 which spread to her liver in July 2010 and by June 2011 had spread to her lung. After bouts of chemotherapy and operations to remove parts of her liver, bowl and intestines the cancerous tumours are now so small they can hardly be seen.
Karen told the Enquirer: “I nearly teared up on stage then, but I held it together! So many people are so down when they are told but you just have to get on with it and think it’s not the end of the world.
“They’ve got to keep going. I believe I haven’t got it, that’s how I get on with it to live life to the full. I’m here to support everyone today as I’m not well enough to take part yet, but it is great how many people are here and want to help.
“I want to give something back to Cancer Research, I can’t express the impact it has had on my life.”
With Brentwood Race for Life in only its second year, turnout was impressive as over 2,500 women braved the sun to tackle the 5k course.
First home was 31-year-old Ellie Cumlow (pictured right, second from left) from Colchester who finished in an impressive 23 minutes. Exhausted Ellie said: “I did it for my nan.”
Second place went to Megan Kelly, 14 (pictured right, far left) from Brentwood. She also had a very special reason for taking part saying: “I did it for my granddad, I’m pleased with my time of 23.34 too.”
Joint third went to mother and daughter duo Gisele Taylor, 48 (pictured above, second right) and Emily Barratt, 19 (pictured above, far right). The sporty pair crossed the line together in 24.15 minutes. Gisele said: “We are so pleased we crossed the line together, it was really special. We have come down from Ascot to take part as we are originally from round here and are doing it for our friend Linda Scott.”
Fifth placed Kerry Graham from Chafford Hundred caused a stir, completing the course in just a bright pink bra and shorts. She said: “It’s so hot and I thought why not really! I’ve run it for my dad who died of cancer when he was just 56, he was too young to die.”
Twenty one-month old Alydia Claydon (pictured right) was last across the finish line at Sunday’s Brentwood Race for Life event after completing the 5k course with her family.
The toddler walked most of the course in the sweltering heat, with the odd break in her pushchair.
She completed the course to huge cheers and applause from the crowd.
With her on the day were her great aunt June Campbell-Michaels, aunt Lily Webb and mum Alaine Albert. They said: “We came last but we’ve had a great day, we will definitely be back next year!”
Now organisers are saying a heart-felt ‘thanks’ to everyone who took part - and urging them to return their sponsorship money to fund vital research into 200 types of cancer.
Gill Burgess, Race for Life event manager for Brentwood, said: “Race for Life in Brentwood was a fantastic event and we are so very grateful to everyone who took part or supported our participants, as well as the wonderful volunteers who helped make the event happen.
“Now the big day is over, we are asking our supporters to take one last step - by returning the money they’ve raised so it can go into vital research to help more men, women and children survive cancer.”
She added: “Cancer Research UK doesn’t receive any Government funding for its ground-breaking work. So the money people in Brentwood raise through Race for Life is crucial because it means we can go on supporting the pioneering work of doctors, nurses and scientists who are fighting cancer on all fronts.
“Many people don’t realise that their entry fee only covers the cost of the event. It’s the sponsorship money that really makes a difference.”
Every hour, more than three people are diagnosed with cancer in the Eastern region. But the good news is that research, supported by Race for Life events in East Anglia, is helping more people survive than ever before.
But research is expensive so Cancer Research UK needs the people of Brentwood to help raise £180,000 from their Race for Life event to support it.
Gill continued: “Despite improvements in treatment, we still have a long way to go. One in four people in the UK will die from cancer. With the help of people in Brentwood we want to change that.
“So, whatever the amount, we’re asking everyone to make every effort to return their sponsorship money as soon as possible. It can be paid in online, by phone or by cheque.”
For information on returning sponsorship money, or to make a donation or to enter the remaining Race for Life events in Billericay on the 24 June and Chelmsford on the 22 July, visit www.raceforlife.org.
There are three ways to return sponsorship money: Online at www.raceforlife.org; By phone by calling 0871 641 1111 or by post. Send a cheque, payable to “Cancer Research UK”, to Race for Life, PO Box 442, Northampton, NN3 6UU.