DRIVING hail and heavy rain were not enough to dampen spirits at the seventh annual Mad March Hare event yesterday morning.

More than 700 competitors, ranging from seasoned runners to four-legged family pets, took part in the run which aims to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

With many dressed in brightly coloured costumes, everyone took to the starting line just as the heavens opened but this did not deter them.

Just prior to the event, the conditions were perfect for running with many enjoying the fresh air and soaking up the atmosphere. There were a number of different events, including the pushchair run, a 10k run and a more relaxed 5k course.

But above all, regardless of what event they were taking part in, everyone was aiming to have fun.

Margaret Nicholson, the chairman of the Mad March Hare team, said: “It is absolutely tremendous to see so many people coming out to enjoy the day, have fun and raise money for a good cause.

“It shows what a great community spirit there is and this looks like it could be the biggest event yet. “I think one of the things which attracts people is we are about having fun and there is no competitive element to it.

“Some of the more serious races can be a bit intimidating but this is a family occasion where people can enjoy themselves.”

Over the seven years the event has been running, more than £62,000 has been raised and it is hoped this year will be the biggest event yet.

Dressed as a luminous pink rabbit, Lynn Parfrey, the Wiltshire Breakthrough Breast Cancer lead, said: “It’s so great to see so many people here and taking part.

“Margaret and her team do such a great job and this year is just fabulous.”

All of those taking part were doing so for different reasons, some of them personal. Chris Gilliard, 60, has just been given the all clear from breast cancer and was taking part with her friend Carol Rose, 59. The retired nurses were both taking part in the 5k event.

Chris said: “This is the fifth year I have taken part and it is such good fun. We don’t take it too seriously but it is good to raise some money.

“It feels like I am giving something back for all the great care I received.”

Some of the runners had travelled some distance to take part in the race. Among them was 24-year-old Teri Baines, who had come all the way from Southampton. Dressed as Wonder Woman, she was taking part in the 10k, alongside her friend Jonno Francis.

She said: “I did this last year and it is one of the best organised events I have done. There is a great atmosphere and in costume you can talk to people on the way around.

“On top of the that, the entrance fee all goes to a great cause.”