THERE were tears, triumphs, and smiles as thousands of women united in Basingstoke Race for Life 2013 to help the fight against cancer.

For many, Cancer Research’s Race for Life on June 19 was an emotional evening as they ran in memory of lost loved ones, or in support of someone battling against the disease.

Names of relatives, friends or colleagues were displayed on people’s race numbers as they gathered at Down Grange Sports Complex for the annual event.

This year’s event, run in partnership with Tesco, was full up with 2,300 entrants taking part in the 5km race, and another 500 taking on the challenging 10km run around the playing fields, off Pack Lane.

Incredible mother-of-one Bev Derham took to the stage to address the crowds and to share her inspirational story.

The 57-year-old, from North Warn-borough, has been battling cancer for more than 20 years, and said: “For all of you who have cancer and are in remission – keep fighting. I’m proof you can live with it.

“I have had it for over 20 years and without Cancer Research, I wouldn’t be here today.”

The crowds were entertained by Basingstoke Academy of Dancing who performed the Cancer Slam before a warm-up was led by instructors from Beechdown Health and Fitness Club, in Basingstoke.

A minute’s silence was observed as everyone remembered those who have lost their lives to cancer, before the countdown began to signal the start of the event.

Mums, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and friends, wearing every shade of pink imaginable, walked, jogged or ran their way around the 5km or 10km routes, cheered on by hundreds of spectators lining the course.

Lea Blake, event manager, said the numbers taking part were higher than last year.

She added: “We are so very grateful to all of our participants, supporters and wonderful volunteers who helped make Race for Life in Basingstoke such an amazing event.

“Now the big day is over, we are asking everyone to take one last step – by returning the money they’ve raised so it can go into vital research to help more men, women and children survive cancer.

“Many people don’t realise that their entry fee only covers the cost of staging the event. It’s the sponsorship money that really makes the difference.

“Cancer Research UK doesn’t receive any Government funding for its ground-breaking work. The money local people raise through Race for Life is crucial because it means we can go on supporting the pioneering work of doctors, nurses and scientists who are fighting cancer on all fronts.

“With help from the people of Basingstoke, we intend to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

Lea said there was a real “community” feel to the Basingstoke Race for Life, adding: “There are so many people who come out to support it and come together.

“A lot of people have personal stories and come for all different reasons. It’s a really supportive environment and it feels like people come together to make a difference.”