WHEN it comes to making sure the Town & Gown race is a success, Atkins transport has got it covered.

Atkins, based in Milton Road, Drayton, is part of a multi-national company, but the staff have taken Oxford’s annual race to their hearts, doing all they can to help it fund research into the causes of Muscular Dystrophy.

Atkins supervisor Colin Holt, 51, a married dad-of-two from Charlgrove, said: “The Town & Gown is a massive event and making sure it is safe for up to 5,000 runners to make their way through the city centre is a huge responsibility, but we are honoured to be involved.

“We have been managing the traffic for the event for the past couple of years now and at about 6am on the day of the race we set out to put 400 two-metre barriers, 500 cones and 60-plus diversion signs in place.

“Our job is to make sure the runners know where they are going and get there safely, and also to make sure that the buses can continue running one way up the High Street, away from everyone else.

“The organisers are hoping for about 5,000 runners this year so it will be a fabulous event, but we need to make sure it is safe and a success.”

Now in its 30th year, the Town & Gown 10km race was founded by Mike Cleaver, from Stonesfield, near Witney, in 1982, in honour of his son Daniel, then three, who suffered from Muscular Dystrophy . It is now the most successful sports event in the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s 50-year history.

The run winds through the heart of Oxford and the University Parks and regularly attracts more than 4,000 entrants.

Road closures and diversions enable spectators to line the route and runners to pass freely through the city.

After Mr Holt and the rest of the Atkins team have set up the course, their colleagues will step in to staff the numerous water stations around the route – while 20 others will gear up to run.

Mr Holt said: “I am much too unfit to run the course, but I like to think I do my bit to help the charity by making the course safe.

“Needless to say, we will all be cheering on our own workmates and the rest of the people taking part in this year’s race. It’s a great cause to be involved with.”

Muscular dystrophy is usually diagnosed in children aged between three and five. Sufferers usually die in their 20s, after their respiratory muscles fail.

  • It’s not too late to enter the 2011 Town & Gown run on Sunday. To enter, see muscular-dystrophy.org/ oxford or call 020 7803 4820