WHAT a day! In a strange way, the Jane Tomlinson Pennine Lancashire 10K wasn't about the running.

It wasn't about who finished first - or last.

Many runners - myself included - had their own personal target.

For some it was to break the 50-minute barrier. For others, under an hour was a big success.

And for many, just finishing the six-mile course around a hilly Blackburn was a huge achievement.

But what struck me as I walked around Witton Park before the race was the number of people who were simply running to raise money for a cause close to their heart.

One woman in her thirties had a picture of a man on the back of her running vest with the message 'For my husband Mal'.

Dozens of other runners carried a photo of Lynn Hindle on their T-shirt.

She was a former World Transplant Games champion from Blackburn who died, aged 40, last year from ovarian cancer.

I chatted to Blackburn Rovers legend - and yes, he is a club legend - Tony Parkes before the race.

His wife Eileen passed away at East Lancashire Hospice last year.

Tony agreed to start the race because he wanted to give something back to the hospice.

I also met Mike Tomlinson - the husband of Jane.

Two days ago, I wrote about Jane's incredible courage as she raised £1.8million despite her fight against cancer.

Words really don't seem enough to describe her single-mindedness in adversity.

It's a trait that Mike mirrors as he looks to raise £5 million for his wife's charity.

It was an honour to meet him, and you can see in his eyes that he won't stop until he's reached his goal.

True determination. A true inspiration to us all.

As for my run, it was tough. Tougher than I thought.

I started with Ron Hill's advice ringing in my ears: Don't go off too fast otherwise you'll 'blow up' at 3K.

I started in the middle of the pack, but when the gun went off I found myself weaving past runners to speed up the pace.

In fact, I felt full of energy in the first 3K as we approached the Wainwright Bridge and the dreaded hill leading up to it.

We wound ourselves around Blackburn town centre once, twice, three times.

It seemed like an eternity as we snaked through the streets.

Just when I thought we were making the turn back down King Street for the homeward stretch, we turned back into town again.

Agony. Agony. Agony.

Eventually, we did make the turn for home and a welcome downhill stretch.

Then we hit another hill about half-a-mile from home.

I was desperate to stop as the hill sucked every bit of energy out of me.

Before the event, friends Vicky and Joanne came up to me and told me about their only target for the race was 'to beat the Scouser' (that's me).

And the moment I stopped on that hill for 20 seconds, Vicky and Joanne whizzed past me - and even gave me a slap on the backside.

I wanted so much to summon up the energy for the final run-in, sprinting past them on the line, smacking their botts along the way.

But there was nothing there. I couldn't catch them ... and had to settle for a steady pace down the final strait, enjoying the applause from my wife Sharon and the rest of the family.

I crossed the line in 54 minutes 14 seconds. Much better than I could have hoped for.

It seems the months of training had paid off.

At the finishing line, I had to remove the electronic timing chip from my training shoe, but I couldn't even bend down I was so shattered. I ended up taking my shoe off!

It was fantastic to see the buzz as runners before me hugged, and runners behind me were being cheered home. It was that kind of day.

As I said at the beginning, it wasn't about who finished first ... or last.

But in fact, the whole day was about a lady who came in at the back of the field.

Mavis Pye, 70, was pushed past the finishing line in her wheelchair by her grandchildren and friends. She came home to hugs and tears.

Now that's what this race has always been about.