TWO wheelchair users are urging others to take part in this year’s Town and Gown 10k run in Oxford.
John Dickson and Chris Christou were the first ever people to compete in the race in powered wheelchairs last year, in the child and adult races respectively.
The run, backed by the Oxford Mail, raised a record-breaking £140,000 in 2013 for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and attracted nearly 4,000 runners.
The event, on Sunday, May 11, will be the 33rd Town and Gown 10k and will follow a route through the heart of Oxford and University Parks from a start line on Parks Road.
Ten-year-old John, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, was the first person ever to take part in a powered wheelchair in the children’s race.
Johnny Dickson and best friend Barney Hall, nine, take part
The youngster from Bledington, near Chipping Norton, said: “It was really exciting crossing the finish line.
“Everyone was cheering and it was a fantastic experience.
“I was really pleased to be the first person and I hope more young people take part this year; although I will be looking out for the competition.”
His mum Angela, 37, said: “It is really important for young people like John to be part of something.
“Often people in wheelchairs don’t feel like they can compete or take part but this means they can get out there.
“I would really like to see more people in wheelchairs taking part. It is possible and so much fun.”
Mr Christou, 46, from Hertfordshire, was diagnosed with multiple scleroris more than 20 years ago and in the last five years has had to rely on a wheelchair to get around.
Mr Christou, who also took part in the Great South Run last year, said: “I took part in my wheelchair which enables me to stand up.
“That made it even more of a challenge for me but also made me feel more part of the race because I was eye-to-eye with the other runners.
“I would encourage anyone who is in a wheelchair to take part. You can do it. You are not as trapped as you may think. It is a challenge but it is worth it.”
Toya Champ, challenge events manager at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: “Last year’s Oxford Town and Gown 10k attracted a wider community than ever before – experienced runners, first-time runners, people from other parts of the country, wheelchair users and an increasing number of junior runners.
“People helped us raise over £140,000 towards vital emotional and practical support, life changing equipment and pioneering research.
“It is going to be quite some feat to top this in 2014, but we know that we can do so with the public’s help and support.
“Whether an established runner or a complete beginner, we need them on the start line on May 11.”
Christine Hamilton sounds the starter’s horn
A 3k junior race will also take place on the day and is open to young people aged nine to 15 years old.
The Oxford and Cambridge races have raised over £1million for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
- For more information about the race and to register online, visit oxfordmail.co.uk/townandgown