YORK'S Knavesmire was a sea of pink today as about 1,700 women raced in memory of loved ones who have died from cancer and in tribute to others who have beaten the illness.

The York Race for Life, which is set to raise about £210,000 for Cancer Research UK, attracted runners and walkers from across York and Yorkshire - such as Mandy Atkin.

The York mum, from the Haxby Road area of York, was taking part with family members including her daughter Vicky, and the sign on her back explained why she was involved: "My dad who sadly passed away and my daughter Vicky who kicked cancer’s ass!’

She said her father Derek had died seven years ago from pancreatic cancer while her daughter had beaten thyroid cancer.

Joseph Rowntree School sixth former Frances Woodford said she was taking part in memory of her uncle Steve and 'Geordie Granda,' who had both died from cancer.

University of York student Monica Beven, 20, said she was running for the ‘strongest, most inspirational woman’- her boyfriend's mother Justine Bilton - who had recently been successfully treated for breast cancer.

Sixteen runners from the Bridlington area were taking part in memory of Phil Blakeston, a plumbing and heating engineer from the town, who died of cancer last December, aged 50.

Before the race, a York mum-of-four who is living with breast cancer received a huge cheer as she told her story to the crowds of runners and urged them to check their bodies for signs of cancer.

Tracie Gledhill, of Clifton, said she was 34 when she was diagnosed with cancer which doctors had been unable to cure. The illness was diagnosed after she felt a pain in her breast.

She went through chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy and radiotherapy but the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and doctors were unable to treat it completely.

"It's well known that if cancer is diagnosed sooner, the treatments are less invasive and more successful," she said.

"We can help that by checking our bodies and being aware of our bodies, and picking up any changes and getting them seen to sooner."

"But the difference you guys make, by going out today and running in the Race for Life and raising that money, means that someone in a lab somewhere, is working really hard to make a huge difference."