Claire’s Race for Life challenge

The last few years have seen Race for Life become one the most popular – and best known –charity events in the UK.

Held over a 5 km course, the race gives women the opportunity to raise money for cancer research whilst recognising the struggle of those who have battled the disease.

This year, Claire James, HABC Corporate Account Manager – and self-confessed ‘non-runner’ – undertook the challenge with her mum, Roz Vout.

We asked Claire to tell us more about how the race – held at Clumber Park, Bassetlaw, on 21 June 2014 – went.

‘Having never taken part in Race for Life I had no idea of what to expect. We trained one to two times weekly from late February, before which I had previously been known to state that “You wouldn’t catch me running – not even for a bus if I was running late’. Prior to the race I had not managed to run continuously for more than 3 km, so to do 5 km all at once was going to be a challenge.

The day itself was incredible, with a great atmosphere and lots of pre-race motivation from Hallam FM. Some of the stories told by brave cancer sufferers, and those who had been affected either directly or through friends and family diagnosed with cancer, were incredibly touching, and a minute’s silence to remember those who had lost their battle really brought it home.

The race began shortly after 2.30pm, with mum and I at the front of the ‘joggers’ section. The first 2k was extremely tough due to it being mostly uphill and on rough tarmac in bright, warm sunshine. At 2.5k, the group had dispersed slightly and we veered off onto a track through beautiful woodland.

In a more peaceful environment the running became manageable, the shade of the trees keeping us cool, and we cheered each other on with the odd (though breathless!) motivational statement. At 3.5k, we could hear the music over the PA system and we guessed that we were not far from the finish line. Before long we were back on the tarmac, passing the long stream of ‘walkers’ who had just set off and receiving encouraging words from the roadside marshals.

The noise of the crowd became louder as we neared the final bend in the road, uphill towards the finish line. My stepfather, Tony, who is an avid triathlete, stood in a layby with Charlie the dog – springing up as he recognised us – and we heard him shout “Final 300 metres!”

To mum and I, this could have been 300 miles, but we pushed on to be greeted by hundreds of well-wishers along the approach to the finish line, clapping and offering words of support to keep us going. A huge, proud and emotional lump threatened to rise in my throat, but I mustered two ‘thumbs-up’ as we approached the finish line as the clock ticked towards the 30 minute mark. Mum clasped my hand as we made one final push to get across the line.

Our final time…30 minutes and four seconds! And I’d completed 5k in one go, which was for me an incredible personal achievement! Race for life vest

We were rewarded with medals, cold bottled water and a chocolate chip brioche, which we consumed in the shade of a tree – followed by a toilet stop! – and delicious ice cream on the walk back to the car. We felt incredibly proud, not only to be part of this event and cause, but to be alive and well enough to compete. We all take so much for granted, but cancer can strike at any time and nobody is immune to it.

So far I have raised £80 from colleagues at work (more donations are welcome!). We have also a shared JustGiving account with additional contributions from friends and family members.’

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