ALMOST 10,000 women and children took on 5k, 10k or a Pretty Muddy obstacle course at Heaton Park in Prestwich to raise funds for Cancer Research UK helping to raise an estimated £412,000 for vital research.

Runners and walkers from Bury, Bolton, Prestwich and Heywood were amongst the participants. They were joined by Coronation Street’s Brooke Vincent for Pretty Muddy on Saturday for Pretty Muddy.

And former Hollyoaks star and Bury actress Jazz Franks and her mum Lesley, a bowel cancer survivor, started and completed the 5k race on Sunday.

Cheetham Hill cancer survivor Talia Mazzucchetto, 20, who was treated for bone cancer as a teenager, was special guest starter for Pretty Muddy.

She told the crowd: “I was a child when I started out on this journey. I was only 15 when I first started to have pain in my arm. Being diagnosed with cancer at 17 made me grow up far quicker than I would have done otherwise. It was the biggest scare of my life - it changed everything.

“Today, I'm 20 and I'm still recovering, but I'm so proud of myself for coming so far. All you can do when something like this happens to you is to be patient, have a lot of faith and believe in yourself.

“I've learned not to take a second of my life for granted and embrace all life throws at me. I'm so grateful to still be here and, although everything has changed, I'm a better person and I'm proud of the strong woman I've become.

“I’m determined to help others by raising money so Cancer Research UK can ensure even more men, women and children survive. So I’m urging women in Manchester to come together and unite at Race for Life because every participant can help make a real difference.”

Jazz Franks and mum Lesley were keen to highlight the crucial connection between taking part in Race for Life and helping save lives by funding work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Lesley was diagnosed with bowel cancer in Autumn 2011 and was successfully treated with intensive radiotherapy and surgery. She is has now been all-clear from cancer for 6 years. During Lesley’s treatment Jazz supported her all the way.

Professor Rob Bristow, Director of the Manchester Centre Research Centre, a partnership between Cancer Research UK, The Christie and The University of Manchester, thanked the participants on behalf of more than 4,000 scientists. He said: “Crucial cancer research is being funded right now thanks to women running, jogging or walking at Race for Life. By signing up and taking part in Race for Life, women in Manchester can make a real difference in the fight against cancer.

“Money raised will help Cancer Research UK scientists and doctors find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.”

Brooke Vincent said: “It has been amazing. I’ve absolutely loved every minute – I’m covered in mud but can’t stop smiling, I’m so happy to have taken part with my close friends. It’s a great day, full of love and laughter and for a good cause.

“It was fantastic to join thousands of women in Manchester raising funds for Cancer Research UK. Everyone was helping each other round the course as we scrambled under cargo nets and crawled through mud pits. It was really moving to read the notes on people’s backs about why they were taking part or who they were running for.

“Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way and taking part in Race for Life really felt like I was giving back and helping a cause that I care about.”

Every year, around 41,700 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West.

Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy, Half Marathon and Hiking events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer sooner by funding crucial research.

Kirsti Thompson, Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Race for Life Event Manager, said: “Taking part in Race for Life is a special and unique experience - full of emotion, courage, tears and laughter. We had a great event at Heaton Park and the sun shone all weekend. Every step participants take will help to beat cancer sooner.”

One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.

Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend over £26 million last year in Manchester on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research - helping more men, women and children survive the disease.