Thousands of runners gathered in Irvine on Saturday morning to support cancer research by breaking a sweat in a 5K and 10K run.

The 6th Annual UC Irvine Anti-Cancer Challenge returned to in-person events at Aldrich Park this year after a yearslong hiatus due to the pandemic. 

The event aims to raise awareness and funds for critical cancer research.

Over 3,000 people showed up bright and early for both a marathon and a bike riding challenge.

Since 2017, the event has raised over $2.5 million dollars for cancer research, with Saturday’s event bumping up raised funds to over $3 million.

“I think this challenge is so important,” said a participant. “The research is so important and I’m honoring my father-in-law and my grandparents. I know I’m saving people’s lives and if not saving, at least improving, and I think everybody should get involved.”

All the proceeds will benefit the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center for clinical cancer research and innovative projects that will be used to save lives.

Those interested in donating can do so online at the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge website.