THOUSANDS of women turned Oxford’s University Parks pink today, as they raised an estimated £165,000 for Cancer Research UK.

The city’s 22nd Race For Life event saw more than 2,500 runners, joggers and walkers take part in the five and 10km events in scintillating sunshine.

Eileen Naughton won the shorter event in 20.27, just a month after losing her mum to the disease.

The 36-year-old, from Didcot, said: “I did it for my mum – she died 28 days ago.

“I kept thinking that she was going to be at the finish line, she was always at the finish of all my races, so I just kept going.

“I would just like to thank Churchill hospital where she had her treatment, especially Gill Dyer.”

Participants began assembling before 10am yesterday morning, when young and old took part in a lively group warm up, featuring dogs, a scattering of men in wigs and a balloon unicorn.

Event Manager Sophie Heath said: “For me it’s a fantastic community feel – it’s a really great opportunity to bring the women of Oxfordshire together.

“(They are) absolutely inspiring. We know that getting on site at 4am is worth it.

“For me personally I lost my mum to cancer aged 17, so to put on an event where we fight cancer is great.

“If we can get another little girl’s mum to survive or spend another day with her then that is all worth it.”

She added that one woman had raised around £4,000.

Sarah Evans 51, ran in memory of her brother, who died in 2004.

She praised organisers in her sixth year of taking part in the event.

Her daughter Becky, 15, also from Standlake near Witney, added: “I’m running for my Dad, who survived cancer.

“I just do it because I can – I enjoy it.

“It’s nice to run for a charity that we know are going to help out.

“I want other daughters to feel the same as I do about my Dad.”

Jay Bourton, 32, watched on with daughter Alicia, nine, as his fiancé, Roz Norton, 31, and their other daughter Amelia, 12, competed.

They were running for Jay's mum Shirley, currently suffering from cancer; his grandad, who is five years clear; and Roz's uncle and grandad, who died recently.

Jay said: "I am so proud of them - they have done really well in the short time they have had to prepare for it.

"This is their first year but it won't be their last.

"My mum is pretty ill at the moment but everybody is so proud - we have got family all over the world that have donated."