The York Relay for Life started at 12 noon and continues non-stop until tomorrow at noon.
At 9pm they will light Candles of Hope around the track in memory of those who have died from cancer and continue to walk by candlelight through the night hours until dawn. Nearly 250 people are expected to take part in 17 teams, each team having at least one member at any time on the track.
Inbetween their walking sessions, participants and friends are enjoying entertainment by singers, a circus performer and other entertainers, manning or visiting stalls with a wide variety of items for sale and challenges, meeting an Asian wood owl and resting.
“It’s a really, really nice day, really good fun,” said cancer survivor and entertainer Julie Blackburn, who had a two and a half hour session on the big stage as well as taking part.
Relay committee member Jo Jackson said the annual event at York RI’s sports club in Hamilton Drive, Acomb, is a celebration of a year’s fund-raising by the teams for Cancer Research UK, as well as a chance to remember those who have died of cancer, honour those who have survived cancer or who are living with cancer and to raise yet more money.
She announced during the opening ceremony that so far this year, the assembled teams had raised £65,000.
The 24-hour marathon started with a lap of honour by all the participants, led by the “guests of honour” – those who have beaten cancer or are currently fighting it. They marched behind the St Chad’s Greys Scout Band.
During the event the guests of honour were treated to afternoon tea in the clubhouse.
Among those taking part are the 26 members of Team Jarv, named after Christopher “Jarv” Tormey, who died in January. Team leader Caroline Knight, Jarv’s sister, was given the Larna Cooper memorial trophy at the start of the event. The youngest in the team, five-year-old walker Alice Knight, said: “We are remembering lots of people and that’s why we are doing it.”
The oldest in the team is 65 years old.
The Coverdale family have two teams – one for adults and one for the children including a baby in a pram.
“We’ve all got different reasons for doing it,” said Let’s Beat It team caption Steph Coverdale.
Let’s Beat It Junior team captain Bobbie Coverdale, aged 12, was one of three children honoured for their efforts in raising more than £2,000 with cold water challenges – having to spend at least a minute a day in a cold shower, cold water swim or other chilly challenge.
Although the teams are mostly from the York area, the Hil’s Hilbillies, dressed as Oompa Loompas, had travelled 86 miles from Tyneside to take part because they consider the York event more “fun” than the Jarrow equivalent. They are manning a Wonka stall.
Since the first York event, in 2018, including the years of Covid when fund-raising was difficult and the Relay couldn’t take place, it has raised more than £320,000.