On Friday (22nd September), a small group of Race 4 Truth supporters visited Cancer Research UK’s HQ (CRUK) and spent a couple of hours giving flyers to anyone going into or coming out of the building.
Plenty of flyers were handed out, the police passed by and wished the team well, and even an early Autumn shower could not damp spirits.
It is time for CRUK to tell the truth about the creation of the Race for Life and finally recognise Jim Cowan for his incredible creation.
Look out for more flying visits from Race 4 Truth next year when we will target CRUK offices, shops and events.
CRUK by name, crooks by nature.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
Runner’s World magazine recently celebrated it’s 30th anniversary in the UK and in its 30th Anniversary issue ran a feature on ‘Running Game Changers 1993-2023.’
The article was introduced with the words; “Our running community has gone through some pretty seismic changes in the three decades since Runner’s World arrived in it. Here, we salute 30 key figures who have been instrumental in changing the game.”
And, at number 2 on the list, in amongst famous names such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Paula Radcliffe, and Usain Bolt, Runner’s World listed ‘Jim Cowan, Creator of Race for Life.’
The piece described how, inspired by his own father’s battle with cancer, Jim’s vision changed the running landscape in the UK by opening up the way for the many running charity fundraising events now a feature on the calendar. Along the way it also became Cancer Research UK’s biggest fundraiser securing over £1Billion for the organisation over the thirty years.
While Cancer Research UK continue to deny the fact that Jim created the event, Runner’s World knows the facts. Indeed, before Jim even launched the event, he was talking to Runner’s World about it and, through their then Women’s Running Editor Alison Fletcher, they came onboard as one of the Race for Life’s very first official partners.
While Cancer Research UK clearly lack the moral compass to correct the record and to recognise Jim Cowan as the creator of the Race for Life and that the event is his father’s legacy, the truth is gradually being recognised by more and more people and organisations.
Ask Google, “who created the Race for Life?” The search engine will tell you it was Jim Cowan.
Wikipedia corrected their entry when provided with evidence as to who created the event and now recognise Jim Cowan as that person, inconveniently for Cancer Research UK, also providing a link to a letter from Jill MacRae on Imperial Cancer Research Fund letterhead (CRUK’s former name) clearly stating the fact. MacRae was later exposed as someone who had laid false claim to being the event’s creator after cutting all ties to Jim Cowan.
And now, one of the world’s most prestigious running publications has recognised Jim for his amazing creation, a magazine that would know because they supported Jim when launching the event in 1994.
Cancer Research UK continue to back themselves into a corner and deny what the evidence supports and what is patently clear to a growing number of others; Jim Cowan created the Race for Life.
When will CRUK and its leadership under CEO Michelle Mitchell, rediscover some integrity, some honesty, and admit they got it wrong. By now, they must know the truth making their continued denial little short of a lie. A lie they happily spin to any and all who will listen.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK is lagging behind.
Early in 1993, John Cowan was diagnosed with the Prostate Cancer which would eventually take his life. The diagnosis motivated John’s son, Jim, to create a fundraising event to support the fight against cancer.
Through the summer of 1993, he researched what events already existed and searched for a ‘gap in the market’ – a gap big enough that it could be fully exploited to raise significant funds and increase awareness.
Although his starting point was his father’s Prostate Cancer, he ended up creating an event which raised funds for, and raised awareness of, women’s cancers. That event was to be called ‘The Race For Life.’
Jim had already organised a number of different fundraising events for good causes and also organised some road running events.
Using the road running events as a starting point, he identified that women were seriously underrepresented in running events, often with fewer than 15% of fields. It occurred to him that, surely, more women must want to run these events but, for some reason, weren’t, So, he decided to discover why not?
He found three key things were preventing women from taking part in road running: 1. The distances were generally considered too long. At the time most events were 5 miles and further. 5km road events were few and far between, 5000m being seen more as a track athlete’s event.
2. The events that were available were not viewed as ‘female friendly.’ The general atmosphere was very male dominated and, it was felt, unwelcoming for women.
3. Existing races were overly competitive, very serious and, put simply, just not fun.
Jim realised that, providing a solution to these issues would combine very well with his desire to create a new fundraising event to support the fight against cancer. That solution was to create a series of 5km runs, originally open only to women, which focused on fun not on competition. He called his idea, ‘The Race For Life.’
Initially, Jim took his idea to a breast cancer charity which, following consideration, declined the idea having decided it would not work. Then a conversation with a friend at his local athletic club opened the door to making an approach to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF – Cancer Research UK’s former name). That friend was about to start working at the charity and promised to find a contact name for Jim to approach.
This she did, and on 5th October 1993 Jim wrote to ICRF’s Events Manager, Jill MacRae (nee Baker), outlining his idea*. A meeting was arranged, which then led to Jim organising the very first Race for Life in Battersea Park in 1994.
Sadly, John Cowan passed away in November 1993 and never saw the event he inspired come to fruition.
It is time for Cancer Research UK to do the right thing, stop the lies, and recognise Jim for his amazing creation and his father for inspiring him. It is a creation which has benefitted the charity by over £1 Billion, opened up running to women, and which changed the fundraising landscape in the UK forever. And, but for Cancer Research UK’s deception, one which should be a fitting tribute from a son to his deceased father.
Remembering John Francis Cowan.
16th July 1932 – 18th November 1993.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK is lagging behind.
*Below, a copy of Jim’s original letter proposing the Race for Life to ICRF/CRUK.
Except, they aren’t. Worse, they know they aren’t. Which means, they know they had no intention of keeping that promise when they made it. And there is a word for that, it is called a lie.
As an example, on Cancer Research UK’s own website, there is no reference as to where the entry fee for the Race for Life goes. We know already that it does not go to research but CRUK won’t tell you that.
On the Race for Life’s ‘About Our Events’ page, at the bottom there is a link to ‘Where Your Money Goes.’ Only, the page does not tell you where your money goes. It tells you what various amounts of money can buy or support but not where your entry fee goes.
Is that being ‘transparent about where your money goes?’
Rather than be honest and state what percentage of your entry fee funds any research (i.e. be transparent about it), they choose not to mention it at all.
Rather than be honest and state what percentage of any money you spend on merchandise funds any research (i.e. be transparent about it), they choose not to mention it at all.
And, rather than be honest and tell you what percentage of money raised through sponsorship funds any research (i.e. be transparent about it), they choose not to mention it at all.
Is that being ‘transparent about where your money goes?’
The truth is that not a penny from your entry fee funds any research, not a penny from merchandise sales funds any research and, despite being pushed, they won’t say what percentage of money raised through sponsorship funds research.
And what of their Race for Life television commercial? Is that ‘transparent about where your money goes?’
Of course not.
There is no mention of where it goes, only the lie by omission and the oft used (but deliberately misleading) claim; ‘sign up today for your local Race for Life event and together we will beat cancer.’
It is a topic we have visited, and revisited, over the years and yet Cancer Research UK show no signs of being honest about where this money does (or, more accurately, does not) go. To use their own term, they show no signs of being ‘transparent’ about where your money goes, despite brazenly promising to do so in their Annual Report.
The only possible conclusion to be drawn is that they are being deliberately dishonest, promising to do something with absolutely no intention of doing it. That fundraising promise is nothing other than a broken promise, a promise the knew they would break as they were making it.
It is just another Cancer Research UK lie in a long history of lies, deceptions, hypocrisy, fraud, and generally poor ethics. And, of course, of broken promises.
Imagine you are a specialist running company and you get the opportunity to become a corporate partner with one of the largest running events in the country.
You’d be a fool to turn that opportunity down, wouldn’t you?
Then, imagine that after signing up you are warned that your new partner is not who they appear to be, not what they claim. You are warned of serious ethical and honesty issues, that the organisation behind the event lacks integrity.
What would you do then?
Runners Need wrote back to the person who had warned them stating that they carefully consider who they associate their brand with, especially when it comes to partnerships. They undertook to review the information they had been given and take any action they felt appropriate to ensure their business, “remains aligned to its core values.”
Only they didn’t. It was lip service. No meaningful review took place.
How do we know this? Because the individual writing to them was Race for Life creator Jim Cowan, and he had advised them that he had evidence to support everything he said about Cancer Research UK should they wish to see it.
But they didn’t ask to see any of it. Their ‘review’ did not include looking at evidence. Seriously?
What does that tell you about those ‘core values’ they claimed to be so keen to remain aligned with?
And, next time you want fair, impartial advice on a pair of running shoes or other kit, what does it tell you about any advice you might receive from Runners Need?
Are they selling you the right pair of shoes for you and your particular running style? Or are they only claiming to do that, while actually selling you the pair which serves their own self-interest most?
Based on their opting to continue their partnership with the Race for Life, based on their deliberately ignoring evidence offered as part of their ‘review’, which do you believe?
Runners Need’s deliberate ignoring of evidence in pursuit of corporate greed tells everything about the ‘core values’ to which they referred. Core values devoid of morals, of honesty, of integrity. Core vales based only in serving self.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK and Runners Need are lagging behind.
No, it is probably not what she meant, but when Cancer Research UK CEO Michelle Mitchell excitedly tweeted on 19th April (see below) that she was on her way to a day of story telling, we couldn’t help thinking how apt it was.
Cancer Research UK and Michelle Mitchell are not shy when it comes to story telling, making claims and other reports across their numerous social media profiles. But, why isn’t anyone questioning how much of what they say is true? After all, an organisation which is quite happy to consistently lie about one thing is highly unlikely to be honest with you about everything else.
And this shouldn’t be news to anyone. They have been telling stories (i.e. lying) to you for over a quarter of a century, both in their current format and in their previous incarnation as the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.
Cancer Research UK, its CEO Michelle Mitchell, and many others within the organisation (including its Trustees), are fully aware of that lie, fully aware of the stories they have made up to cover for the lie. They are fully aware that at least one key part of the charity’s history is, literally, made up. And they have told many a story over the last 28 years in order to cover up what they know to be a lie. And that must cast doubt on any other claims they make, tales they tell. For where there is one big lie, there are likely to be others.
Cancer Research UK, and its predecessor the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, have rewritten the history, in other words retold the story, of the Race For Life to exclude Jim Cowan, the person who actually created it, and then spent the next 28 years spreading different fictional versions, story telling about the event’s creation. To be blunt, they have lied. Not once, but repeatedly.
We must therefore pose the question; how can anyone know for sure that they haven’t rewritten other parts of their story, made up other tales they tell? After all, they do like telling stories, Mitchell’s tweet confirms this.
Mitchell might claim that she knows nothing of this rewriting of history, although as CEO she should avail herself of the facts. And, of course, she has had that opportunity but declined it.
In the past the very weak defence was that they had no documentation from the event’s creation.
But that doesn’t hold water. Firstly, without documentation, without evidence, what are the numerous fictional versions they have relayed over the years based on? Secondly, because we have offered (on more than one occasion) to sit down and share documents and witness contacts with Mitchell. Unfortunately, she was not interested. She prefers telling stories to seeing and hearing evidence that clearly proves Jim Cowan created the Race For Life and that Cancer Research UK have peddled nothing more than a series of lies (sorry, stories) over the intervening years.
In short, they know they are not telling the truth but prefer not to correct the lies; they prefer fiction to truth, they prefer story telling. Otherwise, why not sue us? Why not sue Jim Cowan? The answer is simple; you cannot sue someone for telling the truth. And they know that truth would be crystal clear in a court. The evidence supports it.
How can they then talk about Cancer Research UK’s history when, clearly, they don’t even care whether parts of it are even accurate? Worse, they know it is a lie but look the other way, pretend not to know, tell stories. And if one part of the story is told while known to be false, what else among their posts, press releases, claims, and other tales require (politely) closer examination?
Cancer Research UK and its CEO Michelle Mitchell have declined the opportunity to see documentation and to speak to witnesses who can confirm the correct story of the creation of the Race for Life.
They prefer knowingly to tell stories, a series of made up tales which ignore any facts which do not fit their near three decade history of lying. They even claim to have held an inquiry into the origins of the Race for Life but, for some strange reason, don’t want to make it public, to open it to scrutiny. It’s just another story they tell.
Surely, therefore, as well as the truth of any story CRUK tell us, another big question that has implications for the organisation’s future, is that of whether it can be trusted?
With a track record of rewriting history, lies, hypocrisy, turning a blind eye to fraud, low integrity, poor ethics, and absent morals (all evidenced), we certainly would not trust them. But they could very quickly make a start on repairing the damage by recognising Jim Cowan, putting the record straight on their employee fraud, and acknowledging the many wrongs done in the last quarter of a century. It would be a vast improvement on the many stories they have told.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
NOTE: We should add that we also know that the Race for Life’s creator, Jim Cowan, has offered to sit down with Mitchell and her predecessor as CEO (Harpal Kumar) to share documents, correspondence and witness contacts on more than one occasion. Both Mitchell and Kumar declined or ignored those numerous offers. It appears that accuracy, honesty, and truth; and with them trust, are not high up Cancer Research UK’s list of priorities. They prefer to stick to story telling.
It is reasonable for the public to expect honesty, transparency, integrity and accountability from charities. Unfortunately, in the case of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) you get none of them.
That CRUK happily turned a blind eye to the fraud of their then employee Jill MacRae has been a matter of record for some time.
MacRae infamously claimed to be the creator of the Race for Life after stealing the event from its real inventor, Jim Cowan. So brazen was she that she even threatened Cowan with legal action if he did not desist from his own, honest, claim. But he stood firm and MacRae, now with Barnardo’s, backed down and removed all such claims from her social media.
However, by including this false claim on her CV, she committed an act of fraud, an act supported by CRUK who happily provided references to that effect. Indeed, historically CRUK recognised MacRae as the event’s creator, a falsehood they have never corrected.
Initially they supported MacRae’s dishonesty and fraud, then they cited a series of other origins for the event before, eventually, rather than show integrity and admit they had been wrong, they adopted a line of ‘no one person was responsible for creating the event.’ This, despite all evidence clearly showing Cowan did create the event. And, in not correcting the lies, in continuing to deny Cowan any recognition, they display a lack of honesty, a lack of accountability, and a complete absence of integrity.
In fairness to CRUK, those entering the Race for Life who decided to also raise sponsorship might well have contributed to ‘beating cancer’ but that is not what the advertising claimed. And, when challenged, CRUK would not clarify what percentage of funds raised through sponsorship went to actual research, went to actually ‘beating cancer.’
It is a very murky picture. It is a picture of deliberately misleading claims, of outright dishonesty, of an absence of integrity, and a complete lack of transparency and accountability. It is certainly not what the public should expect from a charity.
And this is what we know about. How much dishonesty remains uncovered?
For where there is one lie, there are usually more. And when an organisation lies with so much ease and such frequency it is usually because dishonesty is so deeply embedded within its culture.
IN THE RACE FOR TRUTH, CANCER RESEARCH UK ARE LAGGING BEHIND
In July we reported how Race for Life creator Jim Cowan had written open letters* to the sponsors of the Race For Life to highlight Cancer Research UK’s flawed in-house inquiry into the event’s origins and asking them to use their influence as event partners to lean on CRUK to open that inquiry up to public scrutiny. After all, if it was a properly conducted and honest inquiry, what could they possible have to hide by doing so?
In his letters Jim stated; “I am asking you to consider what asking Cancer Research UK to open their inquiry to public scrutiny would say about your corporate and brand values? And, I would ask you to consider what not doing so would infer about those same values?”
Surely, what was being asked of the leaders of each of these companies was a reasonable request. That is, assuming those companies have the integrity and the moral compass to care about right and wrong, to care about the ethics and values of organisations they partner with and promote their brands through.
Sadly, none of them do. Over three months later only one has even bothered to reply. A Tesco ‘Customer Service Specialist’ replied stating that they were unable to hep with the matter. Global Radio (owners of Heart FM) and Scottish Power have not replied at all.
What does this say about the values of these three companies? What does it say about their moral and ethical positions, about their integrity? Obviously they see no issue in partnering with unethical organisations of dubious morals, organisations with a history of dishonesty who have been evidenced to look the other way when employees commit fraud. We know this because that is the history of Cancer Research UK and the Race for Life, catalogued on this website
We decided to look further and to research the stated values given by each company online.
Tesco’s ‘Core Purpose and Values’ statement does not make any reference to ethics, morals, integrity or honesty. None. Given this, given these values hold no relevance to Tesco, maybe their lack of interest in intervening to ask CRUK to display some integrity should not be surprising?
Tesco’s statement does state; “we treat people how they want to be treated.” Clearly not in the case of Jim Cowan. It also states; “every little help makes a big difference.” Maybe it does. If only Tesco could be bothered to offer that help. Especially on a matter of truth and honesty, of integrity.
Scottish Power’s parent company, Iberdrola, has a clear statement of ‘Our Values’ on its website. Under the section titled ‘Sustainable Energy’ they give ‘ethics’ as one of those values along with ‘responsibility’ and ‘transparency.’
And yet, their ethics do not stretch to having questions for a partner (CRUK) who has been evidenced several times over to act without ethics, without either morals or integrity. What does this say of ‘responsibility?’ Obviously only responsible enough to turn a blind-eye to wrong doing but not responsible enough to address it. And how believable is a value of ‘transparency’ in a company willing to look the other way when one of its partners (CRUK) acts without any transparency by keeping a flawed inquiry in-house, avoiding any public scrutiny?
And what of Global Entertainment, the owner of Heart FM? Despite searching, we could not find any Values Statement for the company at all. The closest thing we could find was on the ‘About’ page of their website where they state; “People may forget what you said, people may forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” They might want to run that statement past Jim Cowan and ask him how their turning a blind eye to Cancer Research UK’s lack of ethics, lack of transparency, lack of integrity, makes him feel?
We also found a report in The Guardian newspaper from March 2010 reporting on Global’s (then) new Mission Statement. It included the line; “here’s to the obsessive ones who don’t walk by anything they can put right themselves.” We can only assume that Global have changed their mind about that one as they walked past this issue without even a sideways glance.
It is clear that Cancer Research UK and the Race for Life have found three partners who mirror their own shady values, who lack the ethics, morals or integrity to stand up and do the right thing.
In the cold light of day the ‘values’ talked about on the websites of Tesco, Global and Iderbrola are little more than empty words, window dressing covering up an absence of integrity they would rather their customers do not see.
And Cancer Research UK’s so-called inquiry remains hidden from any public scrutiny. The silence remains deafening.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK, Tesco, Scottish Power, and Heart FM are all lagging behind.
*The open letters from Jim Cowan to the sponsors of the Race for Life were dated 28th July 2021 and all were sent by recorded delivery. They were addressed to: Ashley Tabor-King, Founder & President, Global Entertainment & Talent Group Limited. Keith Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Power Renewables & Chief Corporate Officer, Scottish Power. Ken Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Tesco.