MORE than 4,000 runners will be on the starting line of tomorrow’s Oxford Half Marathon, and among them will be a team from the Oxford Mail.
For months the team of five have been sticking to a strict training regime spurred on by the knowledge they will be raising money for a fantastic cause.
The Mail’s assistant editor Jason Collie is no stranger to the distance.
He added: “I am not by any stretch a regular runner but I have run two half marathons before, in Bristol and Reading, and it gives you an amazing sense of elation.
“The opportunity to run around the city made it a natural choice.
“Helen and Douglas House is an immensely worthwhile charity, and we are delighted to support it, especially in its 30th anniversary year.”
Last year, the quickest runners finished in an hour and 10 minutes, while the longest times recorded were over four hours.
Running coaches recommend that people who have not run the distance before should build up with short runs starting six months before the event.
Will Preene, Oxford Mail territory sales manager, said: “I was approached and asked if I wanted to take part and I agreed because I thought it would be a good challenge.
“I haven’t done any marathons before but I have always been quite a keen fitness fanatic.
“I have always had my eye on my fitness.
“The longest I have run in one stretch before is five miles, but I have been running regularly a few times a week so I am near enough to the level where I think I will be able to do it.
“I would not say I am 100 per cent confident, but my main aim is to finish.”
Matt Bassett, from systems support, admits he left his training a little late. But he added: “I did a half marathon in March around Silverstone and I quite enjoyed it.
“We will be running on the road which you can’t normally do obviously.
“In March I finished in two hours 20 minutes, which was what I wanted to do, so if I could get close to that I would be reasonably pleased.”
Meanwhile, three Oxford research scientists who already spend long hours working towards a cure for cancer, are preparing to go that extra mile – or 13.1 – tomorrow.
Dr Alison Tedcastle, Phil Jakeman and Peter Simpson will be running the Oxford Half Marathon through the city streets. The trio are members of the Oxford Cancer Research Centre, based in Oxford University’s Department of Oncology.
They will donate their sponsorship money to Cancer Research UK’s new campaign, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), which is funding theirs and other groundbreaking research into finding a cure.
Mr Jakeman, 23, is a PhD student from Cowley, and is working on ways to ‘jump-start’ the immune system and use its power to seek and destroy cancer.
He said: “We haven’t managed to train a lot together, as we all work different kinds of hours, but I ran 13 miles last week and although it was painful, it felt like a great achievement.
“Hopefully this weekend’s run, with the three of us together, will be less painful.”
Postdoctoral researcher Dr Tedcastle, 28, from Jericho, said: “We all understand the importance of finding new treatments and we wanted to help raise funds to facilitate the research.”
Runners will get some last-minute preparation in the 15-minute warm up at the starting line from 9.05am.
Rolling road closures will be in place around Oxford during the city’s half marathon.
The first road closure will begin at 8.30am and the last one will end at 1pm.
Marshals will be used to help both runners and traffic and some traffic lights will be turned off. A number of bus stops in St Aldate’s will be moved.
The road closures include, but are not limited to:
Grenoble Road both sides from Watlington Road to the Kassam Stadium roundabout from 8.30am to 10am
Watlington Road will be closed between Grenoble Road and Berry Close, and from Berry Close to the Eastern Bypass it will be restricted to one-way northbound, both between 9-10am
There will be no access from Oxford Road in Garsington to Watlington Road between 9am and 10am
The nearside lane of the southbound Eastern Bypass will be closed between Horspath Road and Sandy Lane West between 9am and 10am. The outside lane will be open but a speed restriction of 30mph will be in place
Sandy Lane West will be closed for roughly 20 metres at its junction with Peter’s Way, which will itself be closed between 9.15am and 10.45am
Cowley Road and Littlemore Road will be shut between 9.30am and 11.15am between Long Lane and the junction with Beauchamp Lane
Between 9.30am and 11.15am Beauchamp Lane itself will also be closed until Between Towns Road
Church Cowley Road will be closed between Beauchamp Lane and its junction with Henley Avenue between 9.30am and 11.15am
The southbound lane of Henley Avenue will be closed between the Church Cowley Road junction and Donnington Bridge Road from 9.30-11.30am
Iffley Road will be closed from 9.30-11.45am between Donnington Bridge Road and The Plain
There will be a lane closure in Abingdon Road between 10am-12.30pm between Speedwell Street and the south side of Folly Bridge, but two-way traffic will be maintained by a management system
Between 10am and 1pm cyclists will not be able to use the Thames Path between Folly Bridge and the Eastern Bypass
Oxford Road in Littlemore will be closed between the Eastern Bypass and the Sandford Road junction between 10am and 1pm
Sandford Road and Henley Road will be closed until Brick Kiln Lane from 10am-1pm
From 10am-1pm Grenoble Road between Brick Kiln Lane and the Kassam Stadium will be closed.
We'll have great coverage online and in the paper for tomorrow's half marathon. Stories and pictures will be online, along with tweets from our reporters on the ground via @theoxfordmail. There will be great coverage in Monday's edition plus a free supplement listing the times of the registered runners who complete the course in Tuesday's paper. And, from Monday morning, competitors will be able to buy photos of themselves via our PhotoSales website.