A THOUSAND runners will take to the grounds of Blenheim Palace to raise vital funds for Oxford Children’s Hospital after the OX5 smashed the four figure milestone.

Despite hitting the impressive landmark, men, women and children across the county are still being urged to sign up for a place on the Oxford Mail’s OX5 Run.

Money raised from the event – set to top £1m after this year’s event – is spent on play specialists, vital equipment and toys to make children as comfortable as possible during their stay.

Grace Midwinter, a play specialist at the children’s hospital, which provides a wide range of services specially tailored for children, talked about what sets the OX5 apart, having already secured a place for herself.

She said: “I’ve taken part in the OX5 a few times now and I am really looking forward to the run later this month.

“I absolutely love it, the atmosphere is just amazing and I love seeing families we have helped over the years taking part. It’s a really special event.”

The thousand runners - and those who sign up in the coming weeks - will take on the five-mile course through the grounds of Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, on March 25.

Play specialist Sam Mortlock said she was thrilled with the number of people who had committed themselves to taking part in the event.

She added: “It’s amazing that we’ve already hit 1,000 runners, and there’s still three weeks to go so hopefully even more people will sign up.

“This run raises a lot of money every year and we see first hand what a difference these extra funds for the Children’s Hospital make – so we are incredibly grateful to everyone taking part.”

Over the years the Oxford Mail’s OX5 Run has raised nearly £1 million for the children’s hospital, money which has made a big difference to families using the service.

The run has helped the hospital purchase life-changing medical equipment and all of the extras that make the hospital more welcoming and fun for young patients.

Sarah Vaccari from Oxford Hospitals Charity said: “We are absolutely thrilled that so many people have signed up for the run. We know the weather’s pretty grim at the moment, but hope that won’t put off even more people from Oxfordshire signing up in the next three weeks to support this important local cause.

“We don’t mind if you run or walk – this event at beautiful Blenheim really is all about the taking part and raising funds.”

There is still plenty of time for people to enter. Visit hospitalcharity.co.uk/ox5run to find out more.

It costs £25 to take part and people can run on their own or in a team of five or more.

Ms Vaccari added: “We are so grateful to all those who already signed up to take part and to the Oxford Mail and sponsors Allen Associates for their incredible commitment to our wonderful hospital.”