BEST mates Robbie Kerr and Ben Cross will be leaving their friendship at the start line in this year’s Town and Gown race, as they go head to head to reach the winning tape first.

The runners, both architecture students at Oxford Brookes University, will be among an estimated 4,000 runners taking place in the 30th Town and Gown race on Sunday, May 15.

The most successful sports event in the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s 50-year history, the event attracts individuals, teams, serious and non-serious runners alike.

But while the atmosphere along the 10k routewill be one of fun and excitement for most, Mr Kerr and Mr Cross will be setting their sights on personal bests – and keeping each other off the top spot.

Mr Kerr, 24, of Morrell Avenue, East Oxford, is in his sixth and final year of his studies.

A member of the Oxford Brookes Running and Athletics club (OBRAC), he also represented Oxfordshire in the recent International Association of Athletics Foundation (IAAF) World Cross Trails and UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships.

He said: “This will be my first Town and Gown and follows a successful winter’s training that was geared towards the London Marathon, which I completed this year in two hours 50 minutes. With a fresh set of legs I hope to drive into the 33 min mark in the Town and Gown.”

Asked about his friend, he joked: “Ben was in the Isle of Man with me for competition and lagged behind in all three days of competition.

“Form is clearly firmly in my court and fingers crossed I can finish the year with yet another win over a close friend and training partner!”

Mr Cross, meanwhile, thinks he has the Town and Gown, his first, taped.

The 24-year old is also a member of OBRAC and an International and European GB representative for duathlon (run/bike/run), for which he has won a silver medal.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to race through the streets of Oxford, raise some money for a great cause and put my bitter rivalry with Robbie to bed!”

He added: “With some well deserved rest following the European Duathlon Championships (and sneaky training sessions planned), I hope to pip him to the line. The last kilometre will be the decider for sure.”

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