Hundreds take part in annual Willow 10K at Hatfield House
- Credit: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media
More than 700 runners and walkers laced up their trainers and took part in this year’s Willow 10K in Hatfield.
The ninth annual Willow 10K, sponsored by Wrights of Hatfield, was held in the grounds of Hatfield House on Sunday in aid of the Welwyn Garden City-based charity.
Despite a damp start to the day, there was a cool breeze and almost no rain during the run.
Those who have benefited from a Willow Special Day and their friends and family took part alongside seasoned runners and local supporters – all running and walking for a common goal, to raise funds for Special Days.
The youngest registered runner was just two years old and the oldest was 74.
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Bob Wilson, Willow’s co-founder and life president, welcomed the competitors and introduced Carolyn Linsell to speak about her experience of a Special Day after her nephew was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
Afterwards, the former Arsenal goalkeeper and TV presenter said: “Each year we see this event grow – welcoming loyal supporters who take part every year alongside new faces joining to support Willow.
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“We’re touched to see so many people who have been touched by Special Days – some we’re pleased have now recovered from their illness enough to take part, where others have friends and family running in their memory.
“The Willow 10K is a fun family event and, in turn, raises funds for families and individuals to create their own precious memories during a really difficult time.
“Next year will see the Willow 10K’s tenth anniversary, so sign up now and we’ll see you there.”
There was a fun atmosphere in the popular Runners’ Village area on Sunday morning with food, games, balloon modelling and other treats for the runners and their supporters.
Once again Martyn Oakey, from Nuffield Health Hertford, did a fun warm-up, and runners were kept motivated with the cheering volunteers throughout the course around Hatfield Park and live music by JP Percussion.
A large contingent ran in support of Lisa Langford, a mother of two who ran last year’s race following her Willow Special Day.
Her breast cancer returned shortly after, and Lisa sadly passed away earlier this year.
Lisa’s husband Adam ran the 10K race yesterday on his birthday, while their two sons took part in the Junior 1K.
A large crowd of Lisa’s family and friends also ran with purple balloons in her memory, which they released after the race.
Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days.
The Willow 10K has raised more than £350,000 since it began.
Funds from this year’s race are still coming in, but organisers hope that the overall total over the years could reach almost £400,000.
• The Willow 10K tenth anniversary race in 2018 will take place on Sunday, October 7 at Hatfield House.
To mark the anniversary, the first 50 places will be offered at the original 2008 entry price of just £12.50.
Sign up now at willowfoundation.org.uk/willow10K