Thousands run Saltwell Park Race for life

A SEA of smiling faces united in pink yesterday to run in the fight against cancer.

A SEA of smiling faces united in pink yesterday to run in the fight against cancer.

More than 3,000 mothers, daughters, sisters and friends gathered in Saltwell Park, Gateshead, for the annual all-women Race for Life event, in aid of Cancer Research UK.

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Holding hands and helping each other around the five kilometre course, young and old, ran and walked in memory of lost loved ones, and in gratitude for lives saved.

Along the route husbands, sons, and brothers clapped in support of the army of upbeat fundraisers determined to raise money in the battle against an illness which touches all lives.

While no one was there for victory, race winner Kate Farrell personified the inspiration behind the event by striding across the finish line first, spurred on by her family’s own battle with cancer.

The mum-of-two was running in memory of a baby she lost to cancer, her father, who died from the illness last year and for her husband, who is currently undergoing treatment for lymphoma. Kate, of Whickham, Gateshead, said: "I only ran for the first time four years ago when I did another Race for Life, in Bolton. I’ve done a bit of training for this, but not much.

"I lost my son Stephen, when he was just one to a rare form of tumour, in his stomach, which was extremely difficult. I lost my dad a year ago to lymphoma and my husband has just finished treatment for the same condition. It all definitely motivates me to get round.

"Hopefully the money raised can be used to research the forms of cancer which have affected our family."

Running in the race with Kate was her daughter Sophie, 13. Waiting for them both at the finish line was son Michael, nine, and husband Peter, 53.

Cloverhill Community Primary School pupil Michael said: "I came to support my mum and sister. I was surprised my mum came first."

Many sprinted, but most ran and walked their way around the course. All the entrants had their own reasons for taking part in the run.

Sarah Sweeney, 24, of Kingsway, Sunniside, Gateshead, ran with her mum Lynn, 52, and sister Laura, 26.

Estate agent Sarah said: "I was running in memory of my grandmother Margaret Sweeney, who died from bowel cancer.

"It means so much being part of something like this, even though there’s a sad background to it in lots of cases, it’s a happy event.

"It feels really good to get round, you get a real sense of achievement. I hope it’s made my grandmother proud."

Family friend Debrah Atkinson, said: "The pain of running the race is nothing compared to what patients go through. That’s why so may people take part."

For information on other events in the region, go to www.raceforlife.org

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