FORMER Blackburn Harrier Bill Parkinson reckoned the Race For Life charity run was just up his street — but ended up red-faced when he arrived and was greeted with a sea of pink-wearing women racers.
Bill, of Derby Close, Darwen, said: “I have not been able to run for months as I am having ongoing treatment but I reckoned I could manage 5km easily enough.
MORE TOP STORIES:
“I thought I might see some of my old pals from my Harriers days.”
So he got in some stiff training for a week or so and presented himself at Witton Park last week determined to do his bit for Cancer Research UK and with plenty of sponsorship money lined up.
But, as he slowly realised, the event was for women only — more than 1,200 of them, of all ages and sizes and mostly clothed in frilly pink fancy dress — who had signed up for the fundraiser in advance.
Bill, 70, said: “I stuck out like a sore thumb in dark blue as just about everyone else lining up was in pink — and there was not a bloke in sight. I asked if I could run but was politely told to do one.”
However, all his sponsors have insisted — after a good laugh — that he keeps the money they promised and it will be donated to Cancer Research UK.
In 2014 the Blackburn event raised more than £65,000 for the charity — and this year’s total is likely to equal that.
Alison Barbuti, of Cancer Research UK, said: “We are grateful to Mr Parkinson for wanting to support Cancer Research UK.
“Race For Life has been women-only since it started in 1994. It has remained so due to its huge popularity and non-competitive atmosphere, which encourages women of all ages and fitness levels to take part.
“We ask participants to register in advance, rather than at the event itself.
“As part of the registration process, we make it clear that Race For Life is a women-only event in terms of participation.
“But men have an important role to play and we have many male supporters who help as volunteers, and we have a host of fundraising events taking place that men can take part in.”
Bill was a prominent member of Blackburn Harriers for many years, competing across the country. In latter years he was involved with the Darwen Dashers and, until recently, was often seen running over the moors near his home.
Despite all his years of running experience, he seems to have learned his lesson. He said: “I will read the posters more carefully next time.”