I saw the little girl first. The pink unmissable sign on her back read 'I am running Race For Life For ... My Mummy'.
I was participating in the local Cancer Research Race for Life. It should have been held in July, but the monsoon like rain that heralded for most of that month meant that the park was completely flooded, thus the race was postponed until Sunday 30 September.
I have been involved in the run, at this particular venue a few times before. I knew that if I didn't want to get caught up behind a lot of walkers I needed to be brave and get myself in the runners group at the front. The announcement was quite clear - if you can do this course in around 30 minutes, please follow the blue runner sign. Walkers and Joggers please stay where you are and you will be called shortly.
As everyone was assembled it was great seeing the array of pink outfits being donned by happy, jovial ladies. The race started and the pace went off quite quickly but soon settled after the first bend. That is when a group of three girls, who clearly should not have been in the runners section clipped the back of my heels leaving me stumbling as they then went around me and a second of the third cut me up. Tutting loudly, one turned around and apologised. 30 seconds later they were all walking and panting, holding up the section.
"This happens every year," I grumbled to myself "I don't think I will do it again." Then the little 'good angel' popped on my shoulder 'This is supposed to be a fun run." she reminded me. Soon anyone not running was overtaken and a pretty clear run was to be had for the first lap. And that was just when I saw the little girl, with those words scrawled in her little handwriting 'My Mummy' - the sign didn't say whether Mummy was a survivor - or not.
I couldn't see who she was with, she seemed to be running on her own but I knew that wasn't possible due to the rules of the race. A few minutes after I over took her, we turned a corner where she shot past me again "Mummmmeeeeeeeeeee!" she yelled "Wait for me!" A lady a few runners up jogged on the spot and held out her hand. It was a magical moment to see and the biggest inspiration for running.
Shortly after, a second incident occurred. On lap two I started lapping the walkers. A little boy sat on a small bank of grass "I am not moving!" he snapped "I don't care if I am last - it's not like I am going to WIN is it!" he yelled at the women and other children who had stopped to move him along. The women put her hands on her hips and bent down to him "You will get up and walk this race and you will do it with a smile. Your sister will NEVER be able to do this because SHE is not with us anymore!" The little boy stood up and starting walking, hanging his head in shame, that I think will live with him forever.
There was the two ends of the spectrum. Before my very own eyes. A survivor of cancer and the remaining family members of a victim of cancer. All at the very same place. Walking and running the same route. For the same thing. To raise money for cancer research.
And that was all I needed to see to know - I will be taking part next year.
Maybe you should too.