A University of Oxford professor who specialises in researching cancer has won the city’s 2024 Race for Life.

Francis Barr is the head of the Biochemistry Department at the university, focusing on understanding cell growth and how this can go awry in cancer.

The professor took time away from the labs to run in the 2024 edition of the Race for Life in the city centre on Sunday morning (June 30). 

Racing in the 10k run, Francis finished first out of thousands of participants to claim the gold medal after the race began at 9.30am.

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“It feels great and it helps when it’s for such a great cause,” he said.

“I was racing for friends and colleagues who unfortunately are no longer with us or have to live with the consequences of cancer so it’s important for me to do this.

“The race was great and not too hot as if it had been yesterday I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you.”

Other racers included Nigel and Jane Edwards who travelled from Abergavenny in South Wales with their dog Finn to run in the 5K race, which commenced at 10.30am.

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Nigel and Jane Edwards from South Wales with Finn the dog.Nigel and Jane Edwards from South Wales with Finn the dog. (Image: Newsquest)

“We have always come to Oxford, we love Oxford and like Inspector Morse, and the university parks are nice,” they said.

“It is a thoroughly enjoyable walk through the city and the parks, it’s flat and lovely.

“The 5K route is roughly the same and it’s very pretty, and it’s cooler today.”

Jane added: “We are racing for cancer as I have had cancer myself.”

Racers began the runs in the University Parks before embarking on a route throughout the city centre which saw them run past High Street, Queen’s Lane and the Bridge of Sighs.

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High Street was cordoned off to allow racers onto the path and some sections of the road whilst only buses, taxis and cyclists were permitted to use the other lane.

The Race for Life events started in 1994 and fundraise for Cancer Research UK with more than 10 million people taking part since the launch.

Over £970 million has been raised in the 30 years since with proceeds going to fund vital life-saving research into cancer.

A spokesperson for the organisation said prior to the Oxford races: “The course is on a mainly on pathways or road.

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“The course is entirely flat and begins in the scenic University Park, where you will head out onto the historic streets of Oxford.

“Heading down Longwall Street, High Street, then proceeding under the Bridge of Sighs and along Parks Road, you will then re-enter the Park at Norham Gardens.”

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