Falmouth Race for Life

On Sunday 12 May I took part in Falmouth’s 2019 5K Race for Life, along with my youngest daughter.

Race for Life is a series of runs organised and hosted by Cancer Research UK, to raise money for research into all types of cancer. The runs are friendly, fun and untimed. The dress code is pink.

Falmouth (151 miles from home) is a long way to go to take part in a charity run, although it is local to my daughter. Last year we talked about doing the race together in Falmouth, before my daughter graduates and moves away from this beautiful part of the world. So we combined the race with a family holiday, and a celebration of three years of study coming to an end for my daughter.

I’ve taken part in my local race, at Taunton, in the past with both of my daughters (back then I walked The 5K, whereas now I’m proud to be a runner). I’ve also marshalled at Taunton, and will again this year. Race for Life is important to me as I have, along with everybody else I know, lost loved ones to cancer. I run the race in memory of all those we have lost, and most of all for my dad.

We set out from our holiday accomodation in Swanpool for a 1 mile stroll along the coastal path in glorious sunshine. The weather forecast was for a warm, sunny day. Very pretty, but not my ideal running conditions.We arrived at race headquarters, Gyllyngvase Beach car park, earlier than we needed to, and had a relaxed wander on the beach. Groups of pink clad people started to gather, and I noticed that these groups included men. I’d forgotten that men could now participate (should have signed my husband up!) In the past, Race for Life was a female only event (with the exception of children – boys could join in). Although I acknowledge that it’s important for women to have their own spaces in which to do things, I was pleased to see the men joining in. The whole event still felt, as in the past, like a big hen party. The men looked very festive dressed in pink. But their back signs, naming the people they were running for, were a powerful reminder of why they shouldn’t be excluded. Cancer affects everyone.

Before the race began, and before the warm up, there was time for reflection. Race for Life is like a big party, but with something very serious at its core. We heard individual accounts of peoples’ experiences with cancer. And then we had a minute’s silence for reflection. Inevitably, I cried. Inevitably, I’d forgotten to bring tissues. And inevitably, my husband handed me a wad of kitchen towel. And as quick as that, we were doing the warm up and laughing.

Then, participants were directed to follow a flag depending on whether they intended to walk and chat, run, or be somewhere in between. We chose the middle flag. We made our way to the start, and were off.

The course was along closed, spectator lined, roads. It took us along the promenade, alongside the beach, and up to Pendennis Point. It then went up and around Pendennis Point, circling Pendennis Castle, before returning along the promenade to the beach car park.The course was undulating, with gorgeous views everywhere.I set off alongside my daughter. Some of her friends had come to cheer her on, and we gave them a wave. My daughter then raced off ahead, and I soon lost sight of her. I had told her in advance not to hang back with me. I know she’s faster and more competitive than me.

Along the promenade, onlookers waved and clapped. Marshalls banged and shook musical instruments, and gave out high-fives with giant foam hands. The sun shone down on us and the sea glittered.

As we approached the end of the promenade, the road climbed towards Pendennis Point. We followed the road around. Some people chose to walk here. I was determined to keep running; my daughter wouldn’t be walking.

We had a fabulous view of Falmouth Docks as the road curved up and around. Eventually the road entered a wooded area, offering some welcome shade. Then the road began to slope back down again. We passed the entrance to Pendennis Castle, and I made a mental note to come back and visit the castle later. I stopped briefly to take a very hurried photo of the view, and then enjoyed the downhill run.

As I reached the promenade once more, I felt hot and tired. All shade was gone. The road sloped upwards slightly, before eventually falling away again on the return to the finish line. I pushed on, wondering how far ahead my daughter was.

As I approached the finish, I felt grateful that this was only a 5K race. I noticed my husband waiting, and gave him a wave as I ran by. Being cheered on is a new experience for me – running being something that I prefer to go off and do by myself. But I appreciated the support. I ran through the finish, collected my medal, found my husband and daughter, and checked Strava. Race for Life isn’t timed, but it’s still nice to know.

The race was too hot for my liking, and a bit hilly, but I got my second best 5K time. Which was good enough. I was also only two minutes behind my daughter. I’m catching up!

I had a fantastic time, and raised some money for cancer research. It was emotional; there were tears and laughter. There was also sweat and sunburn – despite having generously applied factor 50 (The Cornish sunshine can be brutal).

The race was well organised, well supported, and the atmosphere was fantastic.

It was a good morning.

My feet did all the work, so they get to wear the medal

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