On Sunday 14 May, thousands of runners, from Oxford and surrounding areas, completed the historic Bidwells Oxford Town and Gown to support Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK).
The event, which went carbon neutral for the first time, raised £200k for the charity, which funds research into treatments for rare, life-limiting muscle-wasting conditions and supports the 110,000 children and adults across the UK affected by these conditions.
The annual event now in its 41st year saw 500 children, aged between nine and 15 years old, from local schools, including pupils from Headington School, complete the junior 3k course (which started at 09.15).
For the adult 10k, 4,500 runners took to the streets of Oxford to complete the adult 10k course (which started at 10.00) including Jasmine Laing, 24, who completed her first event in 58 minutes and 05 seconds.
Jasmine, a first-year Doctor of Philosophy student studying Experimental Psychology, at the University of Oxford, said:
“What an incredible event to participate in, the atmosphere was electric, and it had a real sense of community value, all whilst supporting such a great cause. I have a good understanding of the impact that a muscle-wasting condition can have on someone, so I wanted to do something to support.”
This year’s official rare starter was 66-year-old, Anne Peterson, from Corringham, Essex, an inspirational mother who opened the race in memory of her beloved son, Paul.
Paul was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy aged nine and died in July 2014, aged 34. Anne and her family have continued to support the charity in his memory and collectively they’ve raised over £188,000 to date to help MDUK’s vital work.
“It was a true honour to be able to start the Bidwells Oxford Town and Gown event this year, it was an incredible day. It would have made Paul proud, and he would be looking down smiling.
“We’ve continued to support MDUK for many years now and we know how important it is to raise funds for the charity to help fund research into new treatments and ultimately find a cure for future generations.”
Runners took on the oldest run in the series the only closed-road city centre 10k in Oxford with a glorious stretch along the River Cherwell and finished in the University Parks. The sister event in Cambridge will take place on Sunday 15 October with an equally magnificent closed-road city centre route and a section along the River Cam.
The Oxford event started in 1982 by local runners as a fun run to raise funds for muscular dystrophy and still to this day all profits from the events go to MDUK. Collectively, it’s raised more than £3 million and every 10k makes a difference to help muscle-wasting conditions.
Avinash Bhogun, MDUK’s Town and Gown Series Events Manager said:
“Thank you to all our runners for completing Bidwells Oxford Town and Gown and raising much-needed funds and awareness of Muscular Dystrophy UK. This will help us continue supporting and improving the lives of thousands of families living with rare muscle-wasting conditions.
“The event has continued to grow from strength to strength and a special thanks to our title partner Bidwells and all our sponsors for making 2023 the best year yet.
“The race is a great opportunity for the community in Oxford, Cambridge and surrounding areas to come together and show their support for MDUK and we will look forward to returning in 2024.”
Richard Todd, Head of Bidwells office in Oxford said:
“It was an amazing event, made even greater by the glorious weather. We got to see the historic sights of Oxford city centre as well as contributing towards a charity that we know works hard to make a difference for the muscle-wasting community. Everybody worked hard out on the roads too, so congratulations to everyone for finishing and we can’t wait to see you all again next year.”
To learn more about the Bidwells Town and Gown 10k series and sign up for the Cambridge event on Sunday 15 October, please visit: townandgown10k.com.