WHEN defiant runners descended on Castle Park to take the fight to cancer there was a myriad of reasons and experiences which spurred them on.

Some took part to remember a family member or friend lost to the disease, while others jogged in celebration of valiantly overcoming cancer themselves.

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Gallery: Race for Life 2019

Ali Bell, 58, from Colchester, was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her mum died in November.

However, she took part in this year’s Race For Life alongside Ali’s Army, after recently finishing her final radiotherapy session only a couple of weeks ago.

She said: “Events like this are so important – not just for me, but for several of my friends and family who have sadly lost their life to breast cancer.”

Jennifer Kaye, 37, of Orwell Close, Colchester, was taking part in the Castle Park event in memory of her late dad Graham Rayner who died at from bowel cancer just before his 60th birthday.

She took part alongside 75 others from jogging group Running Colchester, as well as her boyfriend Matt. The running club was also taking part in memory of fellow runner and mum-of-two Gemma Edgar who died after a brave and long-fought battle against a brain tumour.

The club has so far raised more than £1,600.

Jennifer said: “I took part in memory of loved ones – my dad and fellow runner Gemma Edgar.

“I loved that men could take part this year and there was a bigger and better atmosphere than ever and very supportive – it was a poignant event.”

Brandon Breedon, 20, was rather uniquely running for an elderly couple he met in Castle Park around a month ago, when he offered to take their photo.

After striking up a conversation with the pair, he discovered they were both suffering from cancer.

Sadly, only a few days before this year’s Race For Life, the man’s wife died as a result of the illness.

Brandon said: “Their story really touched me, so I offered to run for them.

“They told me to not just run for them, but also for everyone else who doesn’t have anyone running for them.

“There are so many people out there who are dealing with cancer but they are alone. I said I would do it for all of them.”