Why I signed up to run

Thousands of women have signed up to get hot, sweaty and try their best, all in the name of charity. KATE BOXELL meets some of the Suffolk runners to find out how their training is going, and what their motivation is.

Thousands of women have signed up to get hot, sweaty and try their best, all in the name of charity. KATE BOXELL meets some of the Suffolk runners to find out how their training is going, and what their motivation is.

IN just over one month 2,500 women will converge on Ipswich's Chantry Park, united in one cause.

Each and every one of them will be attempting to run, jog or walk a 5km circuit of the park in a bid to raise cash for Cancer Research UK.

It is the sixth year Ipswich has hosted a Race for Life event and over the years women across the town have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund vital research into the disease.

But this year promises to be the biggest and best year yet with not one but two races taking place over the summer.

Due to popular demand Cancer Research UK has launched a second race at the Suffolk Showground, open to another 2,000 women.

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That race will take place a month later than the Chantry event and will be held on a Wednesday evening.

Heidi Connell, Ipswich race organiser, said she hoped the combined events would raise up to £500,000 for the charity. She said: “I'm really looking forward to the Ipswich races. Race for Life started off quite slowly in Ipswich but this year the Chantry Park race filled in record time and the new race has acted as an overflow and is now almost closed itself.

“The demand is there in Ipswich for these events.”

Many of those taking part in the two races will have lost friends or family members to cancer and some will have battled the disease themselves.

Others simply want to support the charity and join in the emotive atmosphere of the event.

Last year women in the Ipswich area raised more than £240,000 towards vital research into cancer and, according to Mrs Connell, money is still coming in.

She said one in three people failed to send their money back each year and said it is still not too late to send money back.

This year The Evening Star has pledged to give its best ever coverage of the event, which includes following the stories of women taking part in the weeks leading up to the race.


The Chantry Park race on June 18 is now full but there are spaces at the Suffolk Showground event in July 19 at 7.30pm. Alternatively there is a race in Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds on June 25.

Visit www.raceforlife.org to enter.


If you are running the race for a special reason, call Kate Boxell on 01473 324800 or email kate.boxell@eveningstar.co.uk.

N one in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime.

N In the UK, 275,280 persons were diagnosed with cancer in 2002. Four types of cancer - breast, lung, bowel (colorectal) and prostate - account for over half of all new cases.

N Cancer occurs predominantly in older people, with 64 per cent of cases diagnosed in people aged 65 and over. Less than one pc of all cases occur in children under the age of 14.

N Women in their 30s, 40s and 50s are at higher risk of developing cancer than men at the same ages, largely due to their excess risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer accounts for almost half (48pc) of all cancers diagnosed in UK women aged 40-60 years.

N About 1,500 cases of cancer were diagnosed in children under the age of 14 in 2002, with a slightly higher incidence in boys than girls. The risk of an individual child in Britain being diagnosed with cancer before the age of 15 is about 1 in 500.

N More than once in four (27 pc) of deaths are caused by cancer. More than 75 pc of deaths from cancer occur in people aged 65 or over.

N Cancer mortality rates have dropped by 11pc over the last ten years.

FOR Dawn Baker, the timing of the Chantry Park race will be particularly significant.

Once again the race takes place on Fathers' Day, and Mrs Baker will run in memory of her dad who died of a brain tumour 21 years ago.

She was just 19 at the time, and said she wishes she had fought more for answers when her dad started suffering headaches.

“Nobody really did anything until he went into a coma,” she said.

The 40-year-old who lives in Coral Drive, Ipswich also lost her uncle to cancer and said she believes the disease touches everyone's lives.

She said: “This will be my third year racing but it doesn't get any easier.

“There are a lot of reasons for doing it. Most people in the world know someone who has had cancer.

“My dad died of cancer when he was 49 and my uncle when he was 52.

“There are also a couple of children at my little girls' school who have been fighting cancer and in a way I am running it more for them.”

Those children are Shannon Clarke and Jack Gooding Harding whose stories have both featured in The Evening Star in the past. Both pupils at Whitehouse Infants School, their their bravery and determination has touched many readers.

Seven-year-old Shannon has now been given the all-clear after a two year fight against leukaemia while Jack, five, continues to fight soft tissue cancer rhabdomyosarcoma.

Mrs Baker's children Eileen, seven, and Kayleigh, four, both attend the school and their fellow pupils' illnesses have inspired their mum to don her running shoes for the third consecutive year.

She added: “When you see people like that you feel you have got to do something for them - it could be my girls.

“I always run in memory of my dad. He used to take me to a running club when I was younger and he would have encouraged me to run, so it is in his memory but I am running it more for the people who are dealing with it now.”

MARIE Wheatstone has lost three members of her family to cancer and believes research into the disease is vital.

The 33-year-old of St Helen's Street, is currently training for the Chantry Park race and is hoping to raise £300 for Cancer Research UK by taking part.

Miss Wheatstone lost a cousin and two grandparents to cancer and hopes research into the disease will eventually lead to a cure.

Her cousin was in her 40s when died of leukaemia and her grandparents died of liver and bowel cancer.

She said: “Cancer Research UK is such an incredibly worthwhile cause - all the money raised from Race for Life is ploughed into valuable research into this devastating illness - this year the charity has set a fundraising target of £46million so every penny counts.”

“Sadly, I have lost three family members to cancer - another relative also contracted the illness but survived despite being extremely ill for some time.”

Miss Wheatstone is getting married a week after the race and said the training has helped her get in shape for both events.

And her future husband's family are also helping to motivate her to run as her fiancé's mum died of bowel cancer two years ago.

So far she has collected more than £220 in sponsorship from colleagues at PKF East Anglia, where she works as a secretary.

Geraldine Barker has more reasons than many for taking part in this year's Race for Life.

Just weeks after completing last year's race her 20-year-old son was struck down with Hodgkins Lymphoma and has spent the last year undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Today her son Michael Urry is well on the road to recovery, and his 51-year-old mother feels indebted to the cancer charities and hospital staff who have supported the family.

She said: “I ran the race last year because my mother had had breast cancer and was treated with tamoxifen. She was treated successfully but passed away of natural causes this year.

“I stayed with my son when he was having chemotherapy and you see everyone go through it and their strength.

“For some of them it is palliative - they know they are not going to get better but they are given a quality of life and it can be extremely humbling.

“Without the chemotherapy, drugs and research there are people who would not have had five, six or seven year extra of quality life. My mum had tamoxifen and we had 15 years extra with her which meant she got to see her grandchildren grow up.”

Mrs Barker, of Chantry Road, Saxmundham is planning to run the Suffolk Showground race in July and Michael will be there to cheer her on.

He said: “I think the race is really worthwhile and I will definitely be supporting Cancer Research UK when I am over my illness.

“It has been a difficult year but you have to be positive and know you can get through it,”

Michael was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma after losing his voice last year.

His mum added: “His voice started to get croaky and he thought it was laryngitis and the doctor said he would get over it but he didn't get better.

“We went back and they found he had quite a lot of swelling in his neck and it had spread from there to his chest.

“It is a cancer with a very good success rate and they always say it is easy to treat but it was an extraordinarily worrying time.”

Michael, who is studying for a degree in business management at Suffolk College, had to take a year out of his course while he battled his illness but hopes to return in September.

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