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Flying the Flag for the Move Against Cancer
01 Mar 2022

Simon Cousins visits the Shrewsbury running group 5K Your Way which encourages past sufferers of cancer or those undergoing treatment to 'move against' it by joining Shrewsbury Parkrun.

You can go your own way with this group!

Sarah Mawhinney and Alison Coffey, ambassadors for Shrewsbury’s 5K Your Way, are passionate in their quest to encourage past sufferers from cancer, or those still undergoing treatment, to “move against” it by joining the Shrewsbury Parkrun at least once a month.

5K Your Way falls under the umbrella of the hugely popular Parkrun movement, which hosts over 700 five kilometre runs nationwide every week.

Sarah and Alison are part of a team of six ‘ambassadors’ who got together via Zoom and social media during lockdown last year to form one of the latest of 55 such groups nationwide. Their aim was to get cancer sufferers, plus their families, friends - even their dogs! - out in the fresh air once a month to run, jog or walk 5 kilometres to meet other people who have found themselves in the same challenging position as themselves.

Sarah finished treatment for breast cancer at the end of February 2020, while Alison contracted bowel cancer in 2018. Their road to recovery has not been an easy one, but now they are glowing with health and positivity.

They put this down to the camaraderie and support they have shared through the Shrewsbury 5K Your Way group, which they helped to launch in August 2021. And they have also found that exercise really does aid recovery.

“Going to Parkrun was the one time in the week when I felt normal,” says Sarah.

Alison says she recovered from her post-op complications with a little help from her friends at 5KYW and now advises others to ‘hang in there’, adding ‘it will get better’.

“Some people don’t feel they can do 5 kilometres,” says Sarah. “That’s fine - just do one - or just cheer us on and come and chat with us over coffee afterwards.”

Shrewsbury 5K runners pictured at Parkrun in The Quarry

The emphasis is on making it a warm, positive social gathering, with everyone doing as much or as little as they wish. The main goal is for people to share experiences, to encourage each other and to have fun. Every run ends with a convivial catch-up over coffee.

“We chat about everything - not just cancer - but we’ve all got that connection underneath it all,” says Sarah.

The group’s next goal is to see more men coming along: “They can feel isolated too. It can give them a real insight.”

5K Your Way meets on the last Saturday of every month. If you’d like to join in, drop them an email at shrewsburygroup@5kyourway.org.

Or just turn up on the day at the Bandstand in Quarry Park, Shrewsbury at 8.45am for a 9am start. The next meeting will be on March 26th. Just head straight for the flag! You’ll be assured of a very warm welcome.

Shrewsbury 5K runner at Parkrun in The Quarry
The Shrewsbury 5K Your Way team publicising the group at Parkrun in Shrewsbury