CANCER RESEARCH UK’S MANY & VARIED TALES ON THE CREATION OF THE RACE FOR LIFE

Given Cancer Research UK’s continued lies about Jim Cowan and the claim he did not create the Race for Life, even recently costing him a job offer, you would think they would offer an alternative as to where the event started, as to how it was created.

After all, they must have records of the discussions and the meetings which led to the event’s creation? And, given that, surely they paint a consistent story as to the events beginnings?

Well, no. They don’t. But that is the problem with falsehoods, eventually you forget what you claimed and claim something else. And, of course, you have no evidence to support your fiction because it is just that, fiction. No records of discussions, of meetings, of correspondence. Because they don’t exist.

Interested in checking out Cancer Research UK’s false claims, we did a little research which has exposed a story which keeps changing. There may be more and different claims, but in less than a day’s digging, this is what we have uncovered:

1994

In a letter from Jill MacRae (nee Baker), its then National Events Manager, what was then the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) credited Jim Cowan with coming to them with the original idea for the Race for Life. This was the last time they were honest about who created the event.

1995

After severing all ties to Jim Cowan, Jill MacRae started to claim she came up with the Race for Life herself. It would appear that ICRF/CRUK believed her. She went on to build a successful career in the sector on her false claim.

2000

In an article in the 19th July issue of Athletics Weekly, an ICRF/CRUK spokesperson claimed that the Race for Life was based on, “a concept from America called Walk for a Cure.”

In the same issue of Athletics Weekly, a letter from Louise Holland, the Race for Life’s then Director, stated, “the concept was taken from the Susan Komen Foundation.”

2013

In November of 2013, Jill MacRae contacted Jim Cowan via Linked In and email threatening legal action if he did not stop claiming to have created the Race for Life. Supported by Jane Arnell, Tony Elischer, and Sarah Guthrie (former colleagues of hers at ICRF/CRUK), she claimed they were all “shocked” by Jim’s “misleading claims.” 

MacRae claimed to have never heard of Jim Cowan and asserted that her colleagues had not either. This 1994 letter from Jill MacRae to Jim Cowan puts the lie to that lie. Since launching Race 4 Truth last year, we have shared other evidence that includes correspondence to and from Jill Macrae to support Jim’s position.

Also in November of 2013, Jill MacRae amended the Race for Life entry on Wikipedia to state; “Race for Life was created by fundraisers Jill MacRae (nee Baker) and Jane Arnell at what was then the Imperial CancerResearch Fund.” At Jim’s request, supported by evidence, Wikipedia amended the page to show the truth, that the creator of the Race for Life was him.

On 12th December, Jim Cowan responded to Jill MacRae’s threats stating; “To say that I am surprised at both your claims and you accusation would be an understatement. Your cynical duplicity in laying claim to the original idea is preposterous and your accusation that my own claims are untrue is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.”

He added, “It also appears that at some stage you made a conscious decision to claim the idea as your own, whether by misleading your colleagues at the ICRF or with their collusion is unclear.” 

Jim has not heard from MacRae, or her colleagues, since.

2016

Jim Cowan was advised that the website ‘Informed Edinburgh’ had carried an article titled ‘Spotlight on Jill MacRae’ in which she stated; “I created the Race for Life and organised the very first 5K event way back in 1993 (sic), when I was National Events Manager at what is now Cancer Research UK.” The article was removed after Jim contacted the website advising them that, “Ms MacRae knows this not to be the case.” Indeed, she doesn’t even seem to know in which year the first Race for Life was staged (it was 1994 and was organised by Jim Cowan).

2017

In May 2017 , Nicki Ford from Cancer Research UK stated, “We do not publicly credit anyone with originating the event.”

In September 2017, Cancer Research UK’s Chairman, Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, stated, “We do not credit anyone with originating the event.”

It would appear that, unable to prove any of their previous claims Cancer Research UK and Jill MacRae had made about the creation of the event, the policy was now to simply shut up and claim nothing.

2018

Maybe she didn’t get the memo shared by Ford and Borysiewicz, or maybe it was just time to change the claim again. In May of 2018 Cancer Research UK’s current National Events Manager, Annette Quarry, stated that the original pilot was from yet another different source, this time the American Cancer Society.

2019

Writing on behalf of Cancer Research UK’s new Chief Executive (Michelle Mitchell), CRUK’s Complaints Manager (Graeme McCluskey) repeated the “we do not publicly credit anyone with originating the event line.” This was in response to Jim Cowan offering to sit down and share documents evidencing his being the event’s creator. 

Indeed, rather than accept the offer, CRUK’s stance was to state the blindingly obvious, that they have no documents from the beginnings of the Race for Life. Rather than correct the misinformation they have shared for 25 years, rather than get the history of the event right, they deliberately chose to continue their integrity fee campaign to erase Jim Cowan from the event’s history.

We now wait with baited breath for the next claim as to the creation of the Race for Life. There are two things we know for sure though:

  1. While CRUK’s story keeps changing, Jim Cowan’s has remained consistent throughout. 
  2. While CRUK and their various employees (current and former) have offered no supporting evidence for any of their claims, Jim Cowan has.

The truth is consistent. Cancer Research UK are not.

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.

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