MARIA Keenan is one of many runners getting ready for the Oxford Town and Gown race who has a personal reason for taking part.

Ms Keenan’s cousin, Denise Horrocks, has a type of muscular dystrophy called limb girdle and has received help from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, the charity for which the run raises money.

Ms Keenan, from Forest Hill, said: “My partner, John Barker, is into running and he got me into it so I’m able to support a worthy charity which in turn supports a family member.”

Limb girdle muscular dystrophy causes weakness in the shoulder and pelvic girdle.

It will be the third year Ms Keenan has taken part in the race. The 44-year-old’s cousin, Ms Horrocks, who lives in Wantage and is also 44, was given a £1,000 grant towards a powered wheelchair from the charity.

The cousins became close ten years ago when Ms Keenan moved to Didcot.

She said: “Because we weren’t that close when we were younger, it wasn’t until then that I found out she had this condition and it was quite a surprise, and I actually went to get tested to see if I might be a carrier myself.

“It is difficult to see someone when you know it’s going to get worse rather than better and there is nothing you can really do about it.

“But I think she has managed really well.”

The 10km race takes place on Sunday, May 13, and it is hoped 3,500 runners will sign up to pound the streets of Oxford to raise cash. It will be the 31st year and so far the events have raised £1m for the cause.

Last year, Ms Keenan completed the course in 73 minutes and she is aiming to get round in 63 this time around.

Her partner will also be running and daughter Trinity, eight, is expected to be cheering on from the sidelines.

She said: “It’s a great atmosphere and the crowd just pushes you along.

“You are encouraged all the way round.”

To register, email or call 020 7803 4820