We are excited to welcome the thousands of runners joining us at the historic Bidwells Oxford Town & Gown 10k this weekend.
Not only will participants be taking on the only closed-road city centre 10k run in Oxford, and the oldest in the Town & Gown series, they will also be helping us raise vital funds to support people living with muscle-wasting conditions. This year, the event will also be carbon neutral for the first time in its history.
Ahead of the event on Sunday 14 May, we caught up with some of the brilliant #TeamOrange fundraisers going the extra mile for MDUK.
Running in memory of Tarnia
Kasia, who works as a carer, is running to fundraise in memory of Tarnia, who lived with congenital muscular dystrophy and sadly passed away aged 24 in December 2022.
She explains, “Tarnia was an amazing young woman, incredibly engaging, observant, and sweet. She had a wonderful sense of humour; her powers of observation would have the whole room in stitches.
“We had so many adventures together. I’ll always remember the day Tarnia laughed her head off while being wheeled backwards in her chair all around Latitude Festival after the 'accessible' paths proved too challenging for the tiny front wheels of her wheelchair.”
Although the run will be very poignant for Kasia, she says “Working with Tarnia and learning about her muscle-wasting condition has made me want to do more to support MDUK’s cause – if not for her, then for future research.
“I’m doing it for Tarnia, and as a way for me to say goodbye.”
If you’re experiencing bereavement, grief, and loss we’re here to help or simply listen. Find out more about our helpline and instant access to a bereavement counsellor online.
Researching the cure and running for the cause
Dr Tom Roberts, who works as a medical researcher at the University of Oxford, knows firsthand the importance of funding research into the development of treatments and potential cures for muscle-wasting conditions.
Having previously both volunteered and taken part in the event, Tom explains that this year, “I’m running to represent the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre, to raise awareness of neuromuscular conditions, to fundraise to support further research in this area and to show solidarity with people living with muscle-wasting conditions along with their families and carers.”
Tom completed his doctoral training in the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre lab under Professor Matthew Wood and has been supported by grants and PhD studentships from MDUK.
He tells us about his current work, which focuses on “trying to improve our understanding of the disease processes and developing therapeutic strategies for neuromuscular diseases, with a particular focus on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The impact of research funding from the charity really does make a huge difference – so I know how important it is to give something back.
Tom says that at his last Town & Gown run, “I was overwhelmed by the positivity of this fantastic event. The atmosphere is amazing, with so many runners, and so much support from the city of Oxford, so I would really recommend that people come along and support a great cause.”
Local school support
Over 100 pupils, staff, parents, alumni, and friends of Headington School in Oxford are taking on their local Town & Gown run once again. They are regular participants and fundraisers at the event, having had 100 runners taking part in 2015 to celebrate the school’s centenary year.
For Alice, who works on community events in Headington’s Development Team, this will be her fourth Oxford Town and Gown event. She explains, “I ran my first race in 2013 and I’m delighted to be taking part in this year’s event 10 years later. I am really looking forward to raising awareness about MDUK and running alongside fellow Team Headington runners – it really keeps you going trying to spot them throughout the run!”
As a local resident, Alice tells us she enjoys running through the traffic-free streets of her city and spotting friendly faces: “I always enjoy the route which flows through the city centre and into university parks, with so many supporters as well as runners!”
Another member of Team Headington is sixth-form student Sophia, who entered alongside her dad and some of her friends. Although she says she’s never been a “natural runner”, she’s enjoying training in Oxford’s beautiful green spaces and beautiful, historic sights and taking part alongside her classmates who have spurred her on.
She says, “I think being part of a running community has certainly encouraged me to run the race. I’ve never really been a runner so training alongside others and making new running friends has been lovely!”
As well as feeling a sense of pride upon taking on this challenge, Sophia says “Raising support for Muscular Dystrophy UK adds an even greater level of importance to the race.
Yes, it’s a wonderful, fun, community event where we get to challenge ourselves, but the cause we are supporting is so meaningful – it’s wonderful that we get to contribute to the great work of MDUK.
Join the cheer squad
As well as the amazing runners, we are also looking forward to welcoming the fantastic supporters who will be lining Oxford’s streets to cheer on the thousands of people taking part in the event. Come along, enjoy the sights and spur on the runners.
You might also get the chance to spot a runner dressed in a burger costume, representing Byron Burger. And look out for Anneliese Dodds, Member of Parliament for Oxford East.
Thank you from MDUK
We are very grateful to all the runners who have chosen to take on this feat for Muscular Dystrophy UK. We wish you all the very best and we’ll be supporting you every step of the way.
If you have been inspired by the Bidwells Oxford Town & Gown 10k, why not challenge yourself to go the distance for MDUK and sign up for an event today?