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Sporting champions spearhead race to finish cancer

Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford MBE and Paralympic gold medallist Erin Kennedy MBE have launched an inspirational run which will see 'FINISH CANCER' imprinted in the sands of the British coastline.

This unique race, run across 100 miles of our beaches, will see the words 'FINISH CANCER' imprinted 167,000 times – symbolising the number of people who die of cancer every year in the UK. Lives that could be saved if we achieve our goal of defeating cancer.

But we can’t do this alone. We need your help to reach the finishing line, by supporting our scientists in their quest to make breakthrough discoveries and save more lives.

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We have launched a race like no other, to raise awareness and support for our world-leading research, so that we can help more people survive cancer.

Gold medal winning long jumper Greg Rutherford MBE and gold medal winning coxswain Erin Kennedy MBE, have teamed up with us, to help to turn the tide against cancer.

Kick-starting this unique run, they will be followed over the coming weeks, by a dedicated team of runners to stamp a defiant message against cancer, across 100 miles of coastline.

They will imprint 167,000 footprints in the sand – each representing a life lost to cancer every year in the UK, and a life that could be saved if we achieve our goal of finishing cancer.

A life-changing race

Erin and Greg say this is the most important race they have ever taken part in. Finishing cancer means as much to them as it does to us.

Last year Erin was diagnosed with cancer and received fifteen rounds of chemotherapy before undergoing a life-changing double mastectomy.

Greg’s life has also been strongly affected by the disease. In 2008 he lost his beloved grandfather to cancer and in 2020 suffered his own testicular cancer scare.

The words finish and cancer imprinted in the sand

Erin Kennedy MBE, British Paralympic Coxswain, said:

“Being treated for cancer is like running a race without knowing where the finish line is – it requires an incredible level of mental and physical strength and resilience. When I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer last year, I was tested to the limit in a way I never had been before.

“I was so fortunate to recently receive the all clear – but I know not everyone is this lucky. My experience has highlighted to me just how vital cancer research is, to ensure more people have the hope of a cure.”

Greg Rutherford MBE, retired British track and field athlete and Olympic gold medallist, said:  

“I am an extremely lucky man. I had a testicular cancer scare during lockdown which had a huge impact on my mental health because of the fear it caused due to my reluctance to get it checked.

After eventually seeking help, I was given the all clear, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt relief like it. I can’t put into words how important the ICR’s work is. It’s everything. Funding is essential to defeat this horrible, insidious disease.”

Taking steps to finish cancer

Rutherford and Kennedy started the race at Happisburgh beach in Norfolk, where they ran three miles in the bespoke trainers to imprint FINISH CANCER across the coastline – the equivalent of around 5,000 footsteps.

Now, a team of our researchers, students and supporters will continue the run across Britain’s beaches, leaving the powerful message in the sand in their wake.

The six-week long race will ultimately see the words ‘FINISH CANCER’ imprinted 167,000 times across 100 miles of beach in England, Scotland and Wales.

Professor Chris Bakal and his team, study the biological switches that cause cells to change shape, become cancerous and spread around the body, in order to find a way to control them through drugs or other therapies. He says:

“For each of the 167,000 steps that Erin, Greg, our supporters and researchers take, representing the number of people who die of cancer each year, we hope to increase support for our work, and raise funds that will help us make steps in the lab and the clinic that save lives in the UK and around the world. It’s our hope, that with further support, we can help many more people survive cancer and live well with the disease.” – Professor Chris Bakal, Professor of Cancer Morphodynamics

The finish cancer trainers   

Our bespoke running shoes have been created by sustainable running shoe brand Bahé – a brand that focuses on the positive energy generated through running and how that energy can be transferred through the body. The design process was led and overseen by Bahé co-founder Alex Ward.

Alex and his team spent more than 100 hours working tirelessly on the hybrid running shoe Recharge to create the custom soles, developing various prototypes before landing on the final design that delivered super-clear and legible sand prints of the words finish and cancer.

Help us reach the finishing line

With your support, we can continue making more discoveries, finding more cures, and saving more lives.

Once all legs of the race have been completed, one pair of the bespoke shoes will be brought back to the ICR to be displayed, with the remaining shoes auctioned to raise funds to support our research.

Find out more about our ongoing research to finish cancer, and show your support either by making a donation, or fundraising for us by taking on your own run or sporting challenge.

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