Running out of puff as 5k runners go the distance

DON'T know about you but, I tend to donate to ­charity whenever I can rather than ­taking part.

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The atmosphere  at the Race for Life is fantastic ... even if the fitness of some participants isn't up to much
The atmosphere at the Race for Life is fantastic ... even if the fitness of some participants isn't up to much

However, as part of our new 2014 regime my friends and I have decided we will take part in this year's Race for Life on May 4, which is organised by Cancer Research UK.

It took me back to the same race we did five years ago.

"We're running a minibus from Airdrie to Glasgow Green, says Audrey. "It's all organized," she assures us. "It's only five kilometres and you can walk or run at your own pace so long as you compete the distance.

"All you have to do is get as many donations as you can."

It's a girl's day out and all in a good cause, so I agree. "I must do my bit - after all, at some point cancer touches nearly all of our lives in one way or another," I think.

Spirits are high as I step out of the minibus and smile at the sea of pink females as far as the eye can see. I have never taken part in anything like this before and am genuinely touched by the number of participants.

Females of every shape, size, and age are dressed in pink tutus, T-shirts and wigs.

Many of them have names of loved ones who have either passed away or who are ill with cancer. I'm now very happy to have agreed to be part of such a gathering of caring people.

Music is blaring all around Glasgow Green and after some time our group reach the start line. Almost immediately the others take off and Christine and I are left behind.

Before long, I am gasping and hope my friend is the same.

Breathless, Christine turns to me and says: "No point in knocking ourselves out, we have a long way to go. I think we should slow down."

As runners sprint past us like greyhounds on steroids I agree, and decide the only way we will finish this race is to pace ourselves. "Why don't we run from one lamppost to the next one, then walk one, run one, walk one to the end?" I suggest, thinking this is a brilliant idea.

"Sounds like a plan," nods Christine.

We pass the 2k mark.

"Look," says Christine pointing to a skinny runner, "she's running AND chatting on her mobile."

It must be an important conversation if it can't wait till the race is finished, we reckon.

Meanwhile we walk and run and walk and run until, exhausted, we can just about make out the 4k signpost.

We'd given up trying to speak to each other a long time ago, until…

"Look," says Christine puffing and panting like Thomas the Tank engine going up the Eiger. ­"Someone must have collapsed."

Ahead of us is a huddle of pink women who have stopped racing and are standing beside some waste bins.

"We should stop and help," Christine suggests considerately (although we both knew she was secretly just hoping for a rest).

"We're not trained in first aid and there are paramedics everywhere," I assure her. "Best that we just keep going."

But as we draw closer, we look at each other in disbelief.

The huddle of pink women running for the cancer charity have stopped their race for life - to have a cigarette!

"Surely not," says Christine, slurping her nearly empty energy drink.

"That's bizarre," I agree. "I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't see it for myself. 5k is only 3.2 miles and they can't go that distance without a cigarette. There is definitely some irony in that."

"I know, agrees ­Christine. "That's like running for Alcoholics Anonymous and stopping for a glass of wine."

"Is it just a Glasgow thing, do you think?" asks Christine.

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