Race for Life 2023 medal

Thirty Years of Race for Life

Almost a billion has been raised for Cancer Research by 10 million runners

Cancer Research UK Race for Life is underway for another year but did you know this is the 30th anniversary of this venerable institution of the charity world?

Yes, it's true. When Race for Life burst on the running scene at Battersea Park in 1994, with its 5K format and all-female entry, we were shocked by Elizabeth Hurley's safety pin dress; CK One was the unisex scent of choice; supermodels were posing naked on a billboard to protest against wearing fur and the modern miracle of the Wonderbra was just making it big!

Wind the clock forward 30 years and there have been quite a few changes. Race for Life now embraces all genders and all ages and abilities with hundreds of events and race distances of 3K, 5K, or 10K with the added option of getting pretty muddy at...Pretty Muddy obstacle races!

There were just 750 participants in the inaugural Race for Life event in 1994, with £48,000 raised for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Jim Cowan is credited with having the original idea and was duly engaged as Race Director. Within a year the concept was extended to six venues with 4,500 entrants and more than £200,000 raised.

By 2006 the number of events had risen to 240 with 750,000 participants and more than 10 million people have taken part since 1994, raising more than £940 million towards life-saving cancer research. The rules for Race for Life were amended in 2012 to allow boys up to 12 years old to participate and from 2019 Cancer Research UK has happily opened Race for Life to anyone regardless of age and gender.

Famous fundraisers and ambassadors include Jane Tomlinson, who first ran in 2001 after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, raising nearly £2 million before her death in 2007. This year participants can 'Race for Bowelbabe' at any event and funds raised will go to the Dame Deborah James Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK. The first 1,000 people to sign up to Race for Bowelbabe will have their fundraising page credited with £10 courtesy of Standard Life sponsorship.

Race for Life is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the help of four much-loved 1990s stars. Fitness guru Mr Motivator; TV presenter Anthea Turner; East 17 singer Terry Coldwell and Holby City actress Leslie Ash – who ran in the launch Race for Life in 1994 – have joined forces to encourage runners to dig out their 1990s fashions for an event this year. Take a look at their motivational video here...

With literally hundreds of events to choose from there is no excuse. Join Race for Life this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary while raising funds to help beat cancer. Race for yourself, race for family, race for friends but most of all, race for future generations.

Sign up for Race for Life or Pretty Muddy events here.
Image courtesy Race for Life on Facebook

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