Sunday, 20 October 2013

Twilight Race for Life 2013 - The Day of the Race

When you sign up for something like the Race for Life, you imagine perfect weather, being in peak physical condition and having a wonderful time. The reality of it as the day approached was wet, miserable weather and my daughter recovering from a knee injury that meant she hadn't run in weeks. We weren't sure if she would be able to run the full distance but we were determined to make it round even if I had to carry her and whatever the weather threw at us, we were going to have a wonderful time.

On the day of the race, I was pleasantly surprised to see blue skies and sunshine. I was hopeful that the weather would hold out for us. As I was getting ready in my 'Cancer, we're coming to get you' bright pink T shirt, there was a heavy downpour that prompted me to pack emergency rain ponchos. I ignored the sudden change in the weather and carried on regardless, adorning myself in pink fairy lights, getting my little team of supporters ready with some pink floral face painting and pinning on my race number and tribute to my sister who was a victim of the disease we were all coming together to fight. The final touch was some pink lip gloss.

It was light still when we left for the venue at Trentham Gardens in Stoke but by the time we arrived, it was already starting to get quite dark. Ladies in pink with various illuminations were everywhere to be seen. It felt instantly like being part of something special. I had bought pink fairy lights for my daughter but unfortunately, did not have the AA batteries needed to power them. We'd 'borrowed' the batteries from the TV remote control for her but her lights were dim in comparison to mine. I think she felt a little put out that she wasn't lighting up like a Christmas tree but a bigger concern was whether her knee was recovered enough to withstand the rigours of running 5K.

The weather was perfect - dry and mild. The emergency rain ponchos were superfluous to requirement. The venue was perfect - a beautiful lake reflecting moonlight from a full moon in a cloudless sky. It was hard to get a proper feel for the grounds in the dark but I saw enough to  make me want to return during the daytime. We could see parts of the route marked out with tape, big arrows and rotating lights in the ground. A stunning effect was achieved at various point around the course by uplighting trees. The pink uplighters were particularly beautiful and fitting. We could see the starting line. I couldn't wait to get going and I knew that I was going to love this.

First we had the warm up and then a minute silence to remember those who have lost their lives to cancer. And then we were off....

The route snaked around the grounds of Trentham Gardens with terrain varying from gravel to grass to hard surfaces to wet muddy, potholed, tarmac. It certainly kept things interesting. Some parts were floodlit, some parts were spookily dark. I think I smiled the whole way round. From some vantage points you could see an almost endless stream of runners, joggers and walkers creating a mesmerising vista of light.

My daughter did amazingly well. I only had to slow down for her once and although I lost her for a while towards the end of the race, she put in a massive effort to catch up with me so we finished almost together. We celebrated with a packet of jelly babies and a well earned bottle of Aqua Pura.

It was a wonderful experience and it felt good to be doing something positive for an important charity. I would strongly urge anyone who was considering taking part to absolutely GO FOR IT!!

My daughter's thoughts on the Race for Life Experience:

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