THEY may have been hopping mad but hundreds turned out in Arctic conditions to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The weather at yesterday’s Mad March Hare race was a far cry from last year, when runners were wearing T-shirts in the spring sunshine.

This time they were clamouring for any extra piece of clothing to keep them warm in the sub-zero temperatures.

The chill didn’t put participants off, though, and plenty signed up on the day to do their bit for Breakthrough Breast Cancer Wiltshire.

The 5km and 10km races through Lydiard Park started in 2008, and have raised more than £52,000 for the charity.

Organisers said that thanks to other fundraising events, much of the cost of staging the races had already been covered, meaning most of the Mad March Hare money raised this year would go straight to the charity.

One of the organisers, Yvonne Kiamtia, said: “It’s just brilliant. We’ve got a lot of people out and we thought they might be put off by the weather, but it hasn’t stopped people coming and taking part.

“This event raises so much money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and it is something that affects everyone.

“A lot of people are doing it for friends or relatives who have had cancer and it brings everybody together.

“This year we have held a lot of fundraising events so that we can cover the costs of the event and it means that a lot of the money raised is going straight to the charity, which is the main thing.”

Headteacher Jo Garton, who had surgery for breast cancer at the end of January and will soon be starting radiotherapy, was joined at the event by 20 members of staff from Bridlewood School and many pupils.

As well as running for Ms Garton the children and staff were taking part in honour of one of the mums, Lea Davidson, who also has breast cancer.

Ms Garton, 48, of Old Town, walked the 5k route.

She said: “We have done this before but it has got a bit of extra meaning this year because I am being treated for breast cancer, and one of the pupil’s mums has also been diagnosed with cancer.

“It is great to see them all out and the staff alone have raised more than £1,000 between them – and the pupils all have their sponsorship as well.

“This is how a community should be. Everybody cares for everyone and it’s a good day.”

Les Slinn, who is one of the sponsors of the event, was joined by 57 members of his running team and was dressed for the part in a stormtrooper outfit.

He said: “There are a lot of people here going through difficult times so to be able to do something together for the same goal is great.

“We have a big contingent here of 57 runners and we are hoping to raise as much as we can for a great cause.”

The runners were not the only ones raising their heartbeats in aid of charity.

On Saturday dozens headed to Highworth Rec to take part in an aerobathon for Breast Cancer Care.

The six-hour aerobics marathon started at 10am with six different classes of circuits, body step, body attack, body jam, body combat and zumba. Some participants completed all six.

Cheryl Puttinger, assistant manager at Highworth Rec, said: “This event is to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and already we have raised £780 and we are hoping to reach a total of £1,500.

“We have had 28 people doing all six classes with other people coming in for one or two classes. It is important to raise money for a good cause and we want to thank everyone who has taken part.”

To see more pictures from the Mad March Hare click here.