(Clue: They don’t have any).
When two parties disagree about something, how do you decide which one to believe?
Is it the one who makes claims but has no evidence to support those claims, or is it the one who has evidence and is happy to share it?
Is it the one whose story constantly changes and is unsupported by anything other than hearsay, or is it the one whose story has remained unchanged from the start, who is consistent, and who is able to provide both documentary evidence and witnesses?
Establishing the truth about the creation of the Race for Life is as simple as deciding who is telling the truth in these examples.
Is it Cancer Research UK (CRUK)?
Their current stance is that the origins of the Race for Life are unclear. This stance came about following an inquiry they claim to have had into the event’s creation. An inquiry they do not want to make public. An inquiry in which they cannot say what evidence was considered. An inquiry in which they did not contact Jim Cowan to ask him to provide evidence or contacts for witnesses. An inquiry which doesn’t appear to have been interested in gathering facts or learning the truth.
Prior to their ‘inquiry’ CRUK admitted that they have no records from the time the Race for Life was created. So what records were considered, what evidence was looked at?
Prior to their ‘inquiry’ and their ‘origins are unclear’ line, CRUK’s version of the creation of the Race for Life changed frequently (more here). Hardly the position of an organisation which knows the truth, which has facts, which has evidence to support its many and varied statements.
And then there were the possibly fraudulent claims of their former employee Jill MacRae (more here). MacRae claimed to be the person who created the Race for Life, even challenging Jim Cowan’s claim before going quiet when he produced evidence to the contrary, including a letter signed by MacRae herself.
CRUK have plenty of claims, of stories, of unsubstantiated statements to feed their ‘origins are unclear’ line. But evidence? They have none. They have been unable to provide a single piece of evidence to counter Jim Cowan’s claim to be the event’s creator.
So, what of Jim Cowan? What evidence can he provide to support his claim to be the man who created the event?
Certainly he can provide more than CRUK. Granted, not difficult given CRUK have provided none at all.
First of all, while CRUK have no records from 1993 and 1994 when the event was created, Jim does. He has a copy of his original letter to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (CRUK’s previous name) proposing the event, explaining why and how he had come up with the idea. Unlike today, 5km charity runs were non-existent at that time so this was a ground-breaking, sector changing idea (more here).
He also has a copy of a reply from Jill MacRae (under her maiden name of Baker) in which she thanks him for his interest in organising an event to benefit the charity and confirming details of their meeting to discuss the idea.
After the first Race for Life took place in 1994, MacRae again wrote, “Mr Cowan came to us with the original idea.” Jim Cowan has a copy of this letter too (read it here).
Other evidence includes the original South of England Athletics Association permit (which incorporated the Public Liability Insurance for the 1994 event), faxes between himself and Runner’s World magazine in which he outlines the event and arranges their support for it, faxes between himself and shoe company ASICS in which he arranges more support for the event, and faxes containing further correspondence between himself and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.
It is a significant body of evidence and when compared to CRUK’s complete lack of any evidence, Jim Cowan’s case is clearly overwhelming. But it doesn’t end there.
In addition he can provide witnesses from the time the Race for Life was created by him. These witnesses include the person who was working as a temp at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund with whom Jim had discussed his idea and who found MacRae’s contact details for him. They include representatives of clubs who supported the first running of the event by helping to marshal it, they include sponsors of the event and others. Sadly, others who could have provided testimony have since passed away, including the Olympian John Bicourt from whom Jim had much support. Still available though is correspondence between John and Jim.
On top of this, the leading running magazine Runner’s World (who supported the very first Race for Life and continued that support for many years) listed Jim at number two on the list of Running Game Changers it produced to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in the UK. Why? Because, in their own words, he is the ‘creator of the Race for Life’ (more here).
Then there is Wikipedia who also list Jim as the person who had ‘the original idea for the Race for Life’ (link here).
Who created the Race for Life? The evidence is overwhelming. It is the party who can support his claim with evidence both documentary and provided by witnesses. The origins of the event are far from ‘unclear’ as Cancer Research UK, the party which can provide no evidence at all, claims.
It is time Cancer research UK did the right thing and gave Jim Cowan the recognition he so thoroughly deserves.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.