Ladies Tractor Road Run 2012
Here are the pink women of the Ladies Tractor Road Run, 2012 last Sunday as they rode their tractors 20 miles across Norfolk to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Now in it’s 9th year, this year’s run saw the biggest turnout yet with 136 taking part on tractors of all shapes and sizes, from a massive fuschia-pink Fendt International right down to a BMC mini.
Altogether the women have raised over £200,000 for Cancer Research, and the Tractor Run is a much loved summer event. As they ride through the village of Harleston, excited crowds come out to clap and shout encouragement. It’s an ideal combination, wonderful women in outrageous costumes driving pink tractors. I see quite a few fathers with toddlers!
Some tractors are festooned in tasteful paper flowers. Others have large pink comedy breasts tied to the front grill. In the window of a nearby shop is a picture of the First Lady, Annie Chapman, whose husband thought of the tractor run and who has inspired so many. This year, on the 5th July in Aldeburgh in Suffolk, Annie carried the Olympic torch, nominated by Cancer Research UK, who awarded her their Volunteer of the Year Award in 2008.
At one o’clock the tractors line up obediently in a field in Gawdy Park and everyone dismounts for refreshment, though with another 10 miles of jiggling to go, no-one is drinking too much. Loo stops are unheard of, and there is still the cross country section to go. While the women relax, husbands, sons and photographers indulge in so-called ‘tractor porn’, staring longingly into engines, fondling registration plates and taking full-frontal shots.
As the women remounted their brightly coloured beasts I got the chance to ask veteran Runner Cheryl Jefferies how it feels to take part. “Exciting! Exhilarating!” she shouts above the roar of the engine. In perfect formation the tractors role out of the field. However they don’t know about another treat that lies in store.
Upon their return to the airfield they are traditionally greeted by a fly-past from supporter Maurice Hammond in his P51 Mustang named ‘Marinelle’ (she resembles a Spitfire but is very small and fast).
“Normally he flies high but this year he flew just 20 feet above the runway as he did his usual ‘salute’ - rocking the plane from side to side!” said Annie Chapman. “He has been a great supporter”. Happily, Maurice’s wife Diane had the all-clear from breast cancer nearly five years ago. This year, the ladies hope to raise more money than ever for the research team at Cancer Research UK.
Thank you to Jono Slack for the brilliant photo, if you would like to contribute to his wife Emma’s fundraising effort, please go to http://www.justgiving.com/Emma-Slack-on-the-tractor.