More than 6,500 women yesterday came out in support of the life-saving work of Cancer Research UK — turning Stormont estate into a sea of pink as they raised thousands of pounds for the leading UK charity.
Cancer survivors, women fighting the deadly disease and those running in memory of a friend, colleague or loved one, turned out yesterday to take part in the inspirational annual 5km event.
While they all made an effort to wear pink, touchingly many participants also wore tributes to someone special who has been affected by cancer.
The huge number of runners signalled in sheer detail the number of people across Northern Ireland who have been touched by the deadly disease.
There were so many taking part that the fastest runners were able to cross the finish line before everyone taking part had a chance to set off around the course.
Claire Scott (40) from Bangor scooped first place in the morning run and managed to complete the race in an impressive 20 minutes and 11 seconds.
“I really enjoyed it actually and my time is a personal best,” she said. “I came today because my mum has breast cancer, although she is doing great, she is all over it. She had a mastectomy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and 10 years later it came back even though she had gone through the surgery.
“I had no idea that could happen so it just shows that you can’t be too careful.”
Rachel Campbell (21) from Carnmoney crossed the finish line first in the afternoon race and said she found the motivation to finish the event by thinking of her close friend, Leanne Seeds, who is currently fighting cancer.
“She is only 29 and has two kids and she has been diagnosed with a really rare cancer and she is going through chemotherapy at the moment. I used to run when I was at school but I haven’t done any running since I left. I walked a bit when it came to the hill but I just thought of Leanne and that kept me going.”
The race even attracted four-legged competitors, with King Charles cross Poppy taking part in memory of her owner, Madeline Taylor, who lost her fight with cancer in March.
Her new owner, Karen Anderson (41) from Castlereagh, explained: “I was Madeline’s neighbour and I offered to give Poppy a new home.
“Poppy is doing well although she still makes a beeline for her old home. Race For Life is so important because it raises awareness of cancer but hopefully it will help find a cure for cancer. Look at how many people are here today, it affects so many.”
Bride-to-be Deborah Law (26) from Ballymena donned a veil and trainers to take part in the race in memory of a friend’s father who died last year and also in support of cancer patient Leona Backus (38), also from Ballymena.
“My mum has survived breast cancer. Both my parents have had cancer, and I carry the cancer gene and I have three daughters so I worry that one day something will happen to them,” said Ms Backus. “That’s why research is so important. It is the only way we are ever going to beat cancer.”