Noel and I volunteered to act as race marshalls for this year's Leeds Race for Life at Temple Newsham, a women-only event to raise cash for Cancer Research.
It was a new experience for us. We ran the Sport Relief three-mile in March and when we saw appeals for help at this event, rather than run it, we volunteered. Well, actually, I volunteered, Noel agreed to join me. He couldn't have run anyway!
The race of the title isn't a race against the clock to get the best time around the 5k course, it's a race to beat cancer. The disease takes a heavy toll, one on three of us can expect to have it. One in four will die. It's 25 years ago this month that my mum dies of lung cancer just short of her 50th birthday. Many of the runners carried messages to celebrate the lives of their loved ones. It was moving. Very moving. I shed tears – I wasn't alone.
There were two races, 4000 women in the morning, just under 3000 in the afternoon. The weather held out and everyone finished – or got as far as they were determined to go. One reached Noel's station, which was about 500m from the end, a peaceful place where the azalea and rhododendron bushes were blazing with colour. She couldn't go any further. She suffers from MS and knew she wouldn't get to the end, but she wanted to get that far. Her husband met her and they went away happy with the achievement.
Pink was the prevalent colour. There was also a fine collection of tutus, fairies, Pink Ladies and Ladybirds. There were walkers, runners, young and old, all races and religions, including a group of Muslim women in their full-length dresses.Being women, there was a lot of multi-tasking, including running and texting, and of course chatter and laughter. Except when I shouted the encouraging message that there was just one more small (ish) hill………..
We didn't get chance to get to know our fellow marshalls, we just exchanged greetings and got on with it. Noel was equipped with a radio so heard all the comings and goings including the rather bizarre request for advice from one on what to do as a cow had eaten the direction sign.
By the end of the day, my hands were bruised from clapping and my voice hoarse from cheering. A great day. Cancer Research will be up to £250k better off as a result.
Today's lovely thing
Finding out that the collective noun for ladybirds is a loveliness.