Published: 00:00, 17 May 2002
BARELY a single blade of grass was visible at the start line at Maidstone's Mote Park on Sunday as more than 3,500 set off on the Race for Life 2002. This year's event attracted 1,000-plus more women - all them with the common purpose of raising money for cancer research.
For some if was an emotional occasion as they remembered loved ones who have died from the disease. For others it was a chance to celebrate friends and relatives who have successfully fought off the disease. The women-only event, supported by the Kent Messenger, is one of 100 races taking place across the country this summer.
The Maidstone race has grown in popularity every year and is now one of the most successful Race for Life events in the country. Race organiser Liz Cummings, of Cancer Research UK, said: "It was fantastic. To get that atmosphere and support for at the event is a great feeling. The stories that I heard were amazing and I just wanted to talk to everyone there."
The day began with a minute's silence, followed by a mass aerobic warm up. The crowds of women then queued up behind the start line and the Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Paulina Stockell, got the race underway. It took more than five minutes for everyone to cross the line, by which time the race leaders were almost a quarter of the way around the 5km course.
But the Race for Life is not about competition, and women and children of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities made their way around the course. Nurse Fran Stark, of the Borough Green Medical Practice, completed the race with 30 colleagues just two days after finishing a course of chemotherapy. Another entrant suffering from cancer was pushed around the course in a wheelchair.
Race commentator Bill Moss said: " The thing that brought them all together was the common desire to raise money for an extremely worthwhile cause."