On Sunday 15 May thousands of runners were greeted with beautiful weather to match the beautiful views as they raced through Oxford’s historic city centre in the 35th annual Town and Gown 10k run.
The event, which raises money for Muscular Dystrophy UK, saw a record number of participants this year, with over 4,500 runners taking part. The total amount of money raised is still being calculated, but the charity expects that it is on track to raise £150,000 this year—all of which will be put towards funding crucial research into the muscle-wasting disease, which is caused by more than 60 rare conditions and affects around 70,000 people in the UK.
This year’s race was started by members of the Elkington family of Crawley, who arrived in Oxford with their six-year-old son, Noah, and their ten-year old daughter, Summer. Noah lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and was diagnosed around five years ago.
His mother, Vicky, told The Oxford Mail, “It’s really great to have been invited down for the day because it’s such a brilliant atmosphere and you know the money is going to such a worthwhile charity.”
“Muscular Dystrophy UK have always been at the other end of the phone for us from day one and what they do is life-changing.”
Among the runners on Sunday was Phil Grant, 52, who was presented with an award by the charity for his dedicated commitment to fighting muscular dystrophy. This year’s run was Grant’s 27th Town and Gown race, and over the years, he has raised £14,000 for the organisation. He runs in support of his 29-year-old son Chris, who has lived with muscular dystrophy for 25 years.
“Because of my son, I will do anything I can to keep helping the charity and to work towards finding a cure,” Grant said. “Days like this are brilliant for raising awareness and for having a lot of fun.”
It’s good to encourage people to get outside and get into running, and it’s good for the charity too
Also among the runners were throngs of Oxford University students, including the eventual winner of the race, Dutch physicist Luke Metselaar. Finishing the 10k in 31:35, Metselaar said, “I thought there might have been a chance that I would win, so I am very pleased. It’s good to encourage people to get outside and get into running, and it’s good for the charity too.”
Jamie Baty of St Peter’s College called Sunday “a fairly glorious day which made the run a good bit tougher.”
“There was a fantastic turnout from the colleges—every other runner that passed you was wearing an Oriel or St Hugh’s shirt. The Oxford half marathon in October is probably the next big step for a lot of the runners,” he said.
Emma Jones-Parry, Head of Events for Muscular Dystrophy UK, called the occasion “a fantastic day.” The £150,000 that the charity anticipates will be raised, she says, “is enough to back an ambitious research project or to provide vital help for thousands of families.” She is hopeful that this year’s strong turnout will inspire even more participants to sign up for next year’s race.