Tag Archives: Sarah Guthrie


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:


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


By 2013 Jim Cowan was used to seeing and hearing misinformation and untruths from Cancer Research UK about who created the Race for Life. But what happened in November of that year, even with his near 20 year experience of the origins of the event he created being lied about, took Jim by surprise and raised questions as to where the original lie began.


6th November 2013 started as a normal working day for Jim Cowan but that changed when shortly after lunch he received both an email and a Linked In message from Jill MacRae. Jim knew MacRae as she was the Cancer Research UK (then called Imperial Cancer Research Fund, or ICRF) employee to who he had taken the original idea for the Race for Life back in 1993.

What surprised Jim was that MacRae was claiming to have come up with the idea herself and also claimed that she did not recall ever meeting him, going as far as saying she was contacting former colleagues at ICRF to see whether they had heard of him. MacRae demanded to know why Jim was telling people he created the event?

Jill MacRae

Initially angered by the bold faced lie, and used to years of a variety of lies, about the origins of the event Jim decided to ignore the email and message, determined that if MacRae were serious she would contact him again repeating her false claim.

Which she did. On 30th November 2013, MacRae again contacted Jim, this time by letter, email, and Facebook Messenger. MacRae wrote:

“Your claim for ‘coming up with the original idea for, designing and launching the UK’s largest women’s participation event, the Race for Life’ is untrue. I have been in contact with the fundraising team that was in place at Imperial Cancer Research Fund when Race for Life was created and launched, to secure their support in setting the record straight. Tony Elischer, who was the Head of Fundraising, Jane Arnell, who was the Director of Fundraising Development, and Sarah Guthrie, who was my fellow fundraising manager, are all as shocked as I am by your misleading claims. They are copied into this email.”

MacRae went on to demand that Jim remove his “misleading references” and to “refrain from misrepresenting your role going forward.”

We can only assume that MacRae thought Jim had not kept any records from 1993 and that, with the backing of her former colleagues, she could continue to falsely lay claim to being the creator of the event. That support was underlined when Jane Arnell replied to everyone copied into the email with the comment, “brilliant keep us posted (sic).”

Jim was also made aware that MacRae had edited the Wikipedia page for the Race for Life, removing his name and replacing it with the false claim, “Race for Life was created by fundraisers Jill MacRae (nee Baker) and Jane Arnell at what was then the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.”

Confident he could evidence the idea as his own, Jim decided on a forthright response to MacRae’s claims, sent by email and post, making it clear that should she pursue her false claim, he would defend himself vigorously:

“To say I am surprised at both your claims and your 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.

Not only did I come up with the original idea for the Race for Life, you have previously acknowledged your excitement at my idea when replying to my original letter proposing the Race for Life and confirmed the fact that the original idea was mine, in writing.

Suggesting to others that I am lying about these facts is defamation of my character. 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.

You should be advised that should you continue to make false accusations against or about me and which may lead to personal and/or professional damage I will defend myself and my reputation vigorously.”

Jim copied his response to MacRae’s former colleagues to ensure they were also aware of his stance and ensured that the Wikipedia page was corrected, providing evidence when requested in the form of a letter from MacRae herself confirming the original idea was his.

What happened next?


Jim hasn’t heard from MacRae since although it is interesting to note that she removed any reference to the Race for Life from her Linked In page following Jim’s letter. Whether Arnell thought Jim’s honest and factual reply was as “brilliant” as MacRae’s false claims, we don’t know because Jim hasn’t heard from her since either.

But what of fraud?

It is reasonable to assume that MacRae began claiming the Race for Life as her own creation not long after Jim first took it to ICRF. It would explain why she cut all ties to him in 1995 and might explain why, initially, ICRF/CRUK did not recognise Jim as the creator of the event, mistakenly believing their own employee. It would also be reasonable to assume that she would include such a huge success on her CV begging the question as to whether her ensuing career was built on that lie, a lie told to prospective employers in order to secure paid employment? We will leave it to the legal minds as to whether that is fraudulent but feel the question must be asked.

And while MacRae’s lies might have initially led to her then employer at Cancer Research UK not recognising Jim as the Race for Life’s creator, that is no longer an excuse as they have had plenty of time in the intervening years to view and assess the evidence.

Further reading:
Correspondence from Imperial Cancer Research Fund Confirms The Original Idea Was Jim Cowan’s
If Not Jim Cowan, Who Do Cancer Research UK Credit With Creating The Race For Life?
The Race For Life Was Jim Cowan’s Original Idea, As His 1993 Proposal Letter Proves
Yet Another Letter From CRUK’s Jill MacRae Confirms Jim Cowan As Creator Of The Race For Life