Cancer Research UK will hold a one-day virtual Race for Life event in September, after all in-person races were cancelled because of coronavirus.
The mass-participation event usually features hundreds of races across the UK, which take place between May and June and raise millions for the charity.
When the Covid-19 lockdown hit, Cancer Research UK initially planned to postpone the event to the autumn, but then announced its cancellation in early June.
It has now launched a campaigned called A Very 2020 Race for Life to encourage supporters to take a socially distanced run or a walk on 26 September and fundraise for the charity.
The campaign will be promoted through a tv advert and also include a Facebook live event on the day.
The campaign’s message is “nothing’s going to stop us running, walking and jogging to raise money and to help beat cancer”, the charity said.
In April, Cancer Research UK had also launched Race for Life at Home, a campaign that encouraged supporters to stay active during lockdown.
Race for Life has raised £890m for Cancer Research UK since its launch in 1994. Its fundraising total has been declining for a few years, but the event still raised more than £34m in 2019.
Cancer Research UK has been hit hard by the pandemic and is currently forecasting to lose almost a third of its fundraising income this year (about £160m). It is consulting on more than 300 redundancies and has cut its research budget by £44m this year.
‘The race must go on’
Sarah Pickersgill, head of Race for Life marketing, said: “Our new campaign appeals to the public with the clear message that Covid-19 has meant vital cancer research has been delayed. To get back on track, we need the public’s help. Every year, our brilliant Race for Life supporters come together at events across the UK and raise millions for our life-saving research. We need this support now more than ever – our vital work cannot continue without it.
“A Very 2020 Race for Life highlights that even though plans have changed, and we have to race differently in 2020, that will not stop us running, jogging or walking in local parks or neighbourhoods to raise money and help beat cancer. We want people to feel inspired by the campaign, understand they can make a difference and sign up to join us on 26 September.
“You don’t need to be fittest or fastest, and every pound raised, whether it’s £10 or £100, will help. Covid-19 may have stopped our mass event series this year but the race must go on. Our mission to beat cancer has never been more urgent and it’s only with the public’s support that we’ll be able to continue funding our vital work.”