MORE than 1,200 runners will descend on the glorious grounds of Blenheim Palace tomorrow in aid of Oxford Children’s Hospital.

As is the case every year, the clocks go forward on the eve of the Oxford Mail’s OX5 Run so runners and spectators should set their alarms an hour earlier.

The gates of the palace will open from 8.30am tomorrow and a Zumba- style warm-up will get things under way at 10am. So far a total of 1,256 runners have signed up.

The Latin-inspired dance routine will be run by Zumba instructor George Martini.

Our top stories

The run will start at 10.30am and the starting klaxon will be sounded by nine-year-old Magnus Cameron, a former patient of the hospital, and Martin Keown, the former Arsenal and England footballer from Oxford.

Magnus said: “I just wanted to say that I am really happy to be starting the OX5Run.

“Because of me starting it, lots of people have been asking me about the Children’s Hospital and then sponsoring the runners. I am so pleased that I can do something good for the hospital because it’s done so much for me.”

Mr Keown, who lives in North Oxford, said: “Anybody who has had their child looked after in the hospital for any period of time will endorse the outstanding level of care they provide.

“It’s important we fundraise so it can maintain those high standards and stay ahead of the curve.

“I was at the opening of the hospital and have visited a few times since – one of my sons was born there and I know some of the children who have been looked after there.

“I’m sure everyone locally feels a connection with the hospital too and I am looking forward to starting tomorrow’s race.”

Last year the race raised more than £114,000 for the hospital and the event, now in its 13th year, has raised more than £750,000. The money is used to fund medical equipment to ensure children’s comfort and other aspects of their care, such as play specialists, nurses and toys and games.

Oxford Children’s Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Vaccari said: “We are really looking forward to tomorrow’s OX5 Run and are thrilled that more than 1,250 people have signed up to take part.

“This event allows us to buy important specialist medical equipment and create homely facilities and activities for our young patients.

“So it makes a real difference to local families when they need it most.

“At this stage it’s all about the sponsorship – so if you are taking part please do remember to raise as much as you possibly can for this important local cause.”

Participants and spectators are advised to give themselves plenty of time to avoid traffic around the grounds.

The event is sponsored by city recruitment firm Allen Associates for the seventh year running.