Muddy challenge for four friends with a cause

Tamzin, Sophie, Karen and Anne
Tamzin, Sophie, Karen and Anne

A Saltdean woman who survived cancer is gearing up to take on Cancer Research's 'Pretty Muddy' run in Brighton next month.

Karen, 52, will take on the challenge with friends Anne Cunningham from Hove, Tamzin Wares from East Grinstead and Sophie Hale from Horley, and the group are urging other women to follow their lead and sign up to the challenge to help fight cancer.

Karen and her team ahead of the Pretty Muddy race

Karen and her team ahead of the Pretty Muddy race

Pretty Muddy takes place at Stanmer Park on Sunday, July 2, and is a women-only, non-competitive 5k obstacle course - with added mud.

Karen said: “We’re ready and willing to take on Pretty Muddy and we hope to raise as much money as possible. We’ve all loved and lost people to cancer, so we want to do everything we can in the fight against the disease.”

Karen discovered her own breast cancer through a mammogram. She had a family history of breast cancer – her mum Audrey Woodward, survived the disease 40 years ago leaving Karen at a higher risk of developing the disease.

While living in Belgium, Karen underwent annual mammograms. When she returned to Britain in 2013 she was approaching her 50th birthday and waited for an invitation for her first mammogram. But it didn’t arrive.

Although she was well and there was no sign of anything untoward, Karen went to her GP, explained the family history and was referred for investigation.

The new mammogram didn’t show any problem but Karen had taken her previous mammograms with her. And after comparing the two and further investigation, doctors found two small grade three tumours hidden deep in her breast tissue, known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

Karen underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, four weeks of radiotherapy, has finished a course of Herceptin and is now well and taking Tamoxifen.

Karen and her friends took on Pretty Muddy last year and are back for more this summer. They will also be joined by two others, Lena Allen from Blindley Heath, Surrey, and Jenny Lewis from Rushden, Northants.

Participants face scramble nets, climbing frames, inflatable slides and hurdles, along with muddy obstacles to crawl under, clamber over and charge through – and of course the Spacehopper challenge - all to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving research.

The Race for Life family of events also includes the traditional 5k and 10k courses, which also take place in Stanmer Park the day before Pretty Muddy, July 1.

Sarah-Jane Winding, Cancer Research UK’s events manager for Sussex, said: “We’re excited to be hosting Pretty Muddy in Brighton. We know women here have got the muddy motivation to take on the challenge and get down and dirty in the fight against cancer.

“Pretty Muddy promises all the fun and camaraderie of our much loved 5k and 10k events - but with an extra helping of mud, sweat and cheers. Our mud-splattered supporters give it their all as they scramble, clamber, climb or crawl their way to the finish line together.

“Race for Life events are not competitive and it’s not about being fit or fast - it’s the taking part that counts. Women can complete the Pretty Muddy course at their own pace and every muddy step they take will help to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

To enter Race for Life Pretty Muddy, the 5k or the 10k event, call 0300 123 0770 or visit: raceforlife.org

To sponsor Karen and her team, visit: fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/karens-fundraising-page-2462