LEVERHULME Park was pretty in pink as women of all ages took part in this year’s Race for Life.

More than 2,000 women took to the starting line to run, jog or walk the 5km distance, while raising money for Cancer Research UK.

Yesterday's event, which is the UK’s largest women-only fundraiser, took place in hot sunshine as the runners warmed up by dancing to uplifting songs such as Pharrell Williams’ Happy.

The large crowd of supporters joined with the racers, shouting “cancer we are coming to get you” after taking part in a minute’s silence.

Winner Nikki Reid, aged 21, from Horwich, completed the course in 21 minutes, six seconds, followed closely by 18-year-old Frankie Connolly, from Breightmet, in a time of 21 minutes, 19 seconds.

Miss Reid said: “Everyone knows someone who has had cancer. I’m running for my cousin’s grandma. I do a lot of running but I admit it was still pretty hard. I certainly wasn’t expecting to finish first.”

The Bolton News health reporter Charlotte Dobson showed that she practises what she preaches as she crossed the line in fourth place, clocking up 23 minutes 21 seconds.

She ran alongside news editor Jane Lavender, education reporter Saiqa Chaudhari, crime reporter Miranda Newey and picture desk assistant Jessica Blackburn.

Charlotte said: “I’m fortunate that none of my immediate family has had cancer, but I know others who have. I’m really pleased with my time. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I just went for it.”

Among the runners was Clair Beswick, who was running with Team Lily after her daughter died in November last year after developing a malignant soft tissue tumour on her leg.

Clair, aged 38, of Capitol Close, Smithills, said: “Lily was just 21 months old when she died. She was such an amazing little girl, always happy even when she was going through her treatment.

“It’s great that so many people are raising as much money as possible for such a great cause.”

The run was extra- special for the family of Natalie Poole, who lost her fight with cervical cancer on Friday. The 34-year-old raised more than £17,000 for The Christie and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust since her diagnosis last year.

Her cousin Lisa Lawton, aged 34, said: “Throughout these past 12 months Natalie was always smiling even when she was in real pain.

“She even got me to get myself checked out about three month ago, which I might not have done if it wasn’t for her.

“There is a lot more information about other cancers, such as breast cancer, but not enough for cervical.

“She would want us to carry on the fight for her now, which we are doing.”

Julie White, who featured in The Bolton News last month having breast cancer for the second time, ticked off numbers one and two from her ‘bucket list’ as she completed the race and raised more than £1,000 for the charity.

The 46-year-old said: “The race has fallen on a really good day this year because it’s before my next round of chemo.

“I am really pleased that I have smashed my bucket list target.

“I more than doubled it with £2,080. I have had so much help from family and friends, I can’t thank them enough.”

Along with women, dogs were also doing their bit to help the cause. Chihuahua Lilly and Bichon Frisé Daisy donned pink tutus for the second year running before being walked around the course by Samantha Marshall, aged 41, who was running the race for her mum Celia.

She said: “My mum is a cancer survivor. She had breast cancer about five years ago and had to go through chemotherapy and radiotherapy – it was an awful time.

“Now as her daughter I have to check myself regularly. Women need to know just how important it is to do that so that if they do find a lump it is dealt with as soon as possible.”

Three generations of one family ran for Nanna Jean wearing bright pink wigs. Tina Maher, aged 47, her daughter Ellen Barnes, aged 27, and granddaughter Ruby, aged seven, teamed up with friend Naomi Green, aged 40, and her daughter Elisha Rothwell.

Ellen said: “Nanna Jean is my best friend’s mum whom I was very close to. She passed away last year which was heartbreaking.

"This is the first charity run which is with Ruby. I wanted her to understand from a young age just how important it is to raise awareness.”

Organisers are hoping to smash last year’s total of £105,000 for Cancer Research UK.

The Bolton News:

Delight at the finish line

The Bolton News:

Kat Dibbitts nears the finish

The Bolton News:

The Bolton News:

The Bolton News team, from left, Miranda Newey, Saiqa Chaudhari, Jane Lavender, Charlotte Dobson, Jessica Blackburn and Lauren Blackburn

The Bolton News:

Winner Nikki Reid, aged 21, left, and runner-up Frankie Connolly, aged 18, celebrate after completing the Race for Life event in Leverhulme Park.

The Bolton News:

From left, Lorraine Brough-Jones, Catherine Berrisford and Maria Gregory