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Town and gown runners stride out for a great cause
A RECORD-BREAKING 31st Town and Gown event saw the winner stride over the line in the race’s fastest ever finish time.
Edao Weliy yesterday became the first competitor to run the 10km course around Oxford city centre in under 30 minutes, with a time of 29 minutes and 27 seconds.
Following in his wake were thousands of club and fun runners, some in elaborate fancy dress.
Organisers said about 3,000 had taken part, raising £120,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
Mr Weliy, 25, was able to take part thanks to the charity Running Across Borders, set up by former Oxford University students Garrett Ash and Malcolm Anderson.
The charity runs training camps in East Africa. Yesterday’s run was the Ethiopian’s first competitive UK event.
Mr Anderson said: “This was a combination of three years of work for Edao and, as an organisation, we are delighted that we are able assist in his progression with the sport.”
Sophie Carter, 33, from Begbroke, won the women’s race with a finish time of 37 minutes and 11 seconds.
Television chat show personality Christine Hamilton, set the runners off in Parks Road as the much hoped for sun shone across the city.
Among the competitors was University College student Thomas Crane, 21, who ran in a waiter’s uniform carrying a bottle of wine and a glass balanced on a tray.
He stopped just before the finishing line to crack open his Chardonnay and toast the cheering crowd.
He said: “I felt like celebrating with a glass every single kilometre – but I saved it for the end.”
Summertown’s John Chelsom, 50, who donned a chicken outfit, said: “There are several good things about running in a chicken costume. People don’t know who you are, and you get enormous support on the way round with everyone cheering.
“I’ve been doing training runs in Summertown in the costume.”
Florence Dudley-Hughes, from Littlemore, celebrated the news that she is in remission from leukaemia with her first ever 10k.
The 62-year-old, cheered over the line by her husband Richard and their dog, Flossy, said: “I did enjoy it. I’m feeling really proud.”
Retained firefighter Dan Shepherd, based at The Slade, Oxford, who wore his kit, said: “This gear wasn’t made for long distances.”
Among the runners representing ‘gown’ were Oxford University graduate Alex Zawadzki, 25, and Kellogg College student Seohyung Kim, 24. Mr Zawadzki said: “The support was fantastic. There was a great atmosphere.”
London’s “Dick Van Bike” riders set off from the capital dressed as chimney sweeps at 3am and were met by their Oxford supporters.
They were inspired by Bernard Finerty’s nephew, Tom, nine, who has muscular dystrophy.
Friend, Chris Jones, from Botley Road, cheered them on. He said: “We just wanted to help out. We’re not quite as crazy as they are to run it, but we cheered them on.”