ATLANTA—Despite their diligent, dedicated running, the 6,000-plus participants in Sunday's 5K Race For The Cure did not find a cure for breast cancer.
Hopes were high, given the excellent weather and record turnout for the 11th annual event, but no viable cure for the disease was discovered along the 3.1-mile course.
"We were particularly hopeful of locating the cure somewhere around the two-and-a-half-mile mark," race organizer Jill Broadbent said. "At that point, the route goes right past Northside Hospital and within a block of several Emory University oncology facilities. That seemed the most promising place to perhaps spot a breast-cancer cure. Regrettably, the runners were unable to do more than momentarily glimpse in researchers' windows as they passed by."
At 10 a.m., participants gathered outside the Georgia Dome and proceeded to search through much of downtown Atlanta, including a one-mile stretch of Peachtree Road, before finishing cureless at the state capitol.
Among those disappointed by Sunday's failed attempt was Gene Worth, a Germantown, TN, real-estate agent who drove 450 miles to participate in his seventh Race For The Cure.
"I worked out for three months, focusing my full energies on preparing for this race," Worth said. "I switched to a vegan macrobiotic diet just to be in top shape. Three kilometers in, I felt great, like this was going to be the year we cured it. I did break my personal 5K record, but even that wasn't enough. Then, after I crossed the finish line, I watched other racers finish, but they came in empty-handed, as well."
Broadbent was quick to dispute characterizations of the run as a failure.
"As we like to say, today brought us one 5K run closer to the cure," Broadbent said. "We may not have cured it yet, but one of these times, we will. When faced with a setback like this, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and run another five kilometers."
Added Broadbent: "If even one patient went into remission as a result of thousands of people running around Atlanta, then it's all worth it."
The race was the latest disappointment in a dismal two-week stretch for athletic-based medical research. On Nov. 1 in Dallas, an estimated 3,000 cyclists were unable to isolate the portion of the human genome responsible for Alzheimer's disease. Three days later in Boston, some 200 rowers from 27 different colleges gathered on the Charles River in an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate AIDS. And a pair of Nov. 9 regattas in San Diego and Miami failed to cure cystic fibrosis and heart disease, respectively.
Runs against cancer and other diseases have been popular since 1976, when Olympic runner Bill Rodgers discovered the formula for Interferon Beta—effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis—at the base of Nobska Point Lighthouse while running the Falmouth (MA) Road Race. Rodgers went on to win the Nobel Prize For Medicine for his discovery, despite losing the race itself to Alberto Salazar.