WATCH: Hundreds take part in 24-hour Relay for Life in Portsmouth

Mark Baulch

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THEY laced up their trainers and put their running gear on – but not for a quick weekend sprint.

More than 500 people in 37 teams took part in the gruelling 24-hour Relay For Life, at the Mounbatten Centre, which began at 12pm on Saturday.

Mark Webb from Waterlooville and Dan Perkin'''Picture Ian Hargreaves

Mark Webb from Waterlooville and Dan Perkin'''Picture Ian Hargreaves

And cheers couldn’t have been louder as those who took part crossed the finish line, united, at 12pm on Sunday.

In the name of raising as much money as they can for Cancer Research UK, cancer survivors and many others affected by the disease took it in turns to take laps around the Stamshaw track.

The event has been running for 21 years and in 2016, a grand total of £101,000 was raised.

But event committee member Briony Biddle is hoping to beat that target.

Carly Higgs, Sarah Howe and Lewis O'Brennan from Gospor

Carly Higgs, Sarah Howe and Lewis O'Brennan from Gospor

She said: ‘So far this year we’ve raised more than £70,000, but there’s still more funds to collate.

‘Teams are made up of friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and at least one person from each would have been on the track at the same time, so there’s always someone from each group walking or running.’

The event is organised by Relay for Life Portsmouth, which is part of Cancer Research UK.

Briony added: ‘One of our participants had walked 39 miles as of Sunday morning.

‘We’ve got teams who’ve been taking part for years – you can’t beat the effort people make.’

Many of those taking part have been raising funds for the event throughout the year, before the big finale at the weekend.

Janet Sampson, 56, is a cancer survivor who took part. Speaking at the end of the event she said: ‘I had breast cancer in 2010 but I’m well now, and I’m here with the Baffins Fit Club and Portsmouth Breast Friends.

‘I did 53 laps – the equivalent of a half marathon. It’s been tough but very uplifting.

‘A focal point was the Candle of Hope ceremony on Saturday night, it was very moving and allowed everyone to bond.’

Cancer survivor David Gillespie, 71, from Emsworth, took part in the event.

He said: ‘People fight hard against cancer and events like this show we’re winning the battle. The NHS have been simply amazing throughout my journey.’