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Taking great strides to help fight against heart disease
Buy this photo » The half-marathon runners set off at the start of the charity event through Blenheim Park, with the Column of Victory in the distance. Pictures: OX62519
TV stars came out to support runners from across the globe at the third annual half marathon in aid of British Heart Foundation.
Four thousand runners joined the half-marathon, 10k race and 2k fun run yesterday in the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, in a bid to raise more than £150,000.
Those on the 10k run were led by Commonwealth Games gold medal heptathlete Louise Hazel, who lost her father to heart disease.
Leading the warm-up, Ms Hazel said she was “very honoured” to be the running ambassador for BHF.
Joining her at the front of the run in Team Hazel were celebrities including Hollyoaks actress Gemma Atkinson, opera singer Natalie Coyle and Spencer Matthews, of Made in Chelsea.
One of the runners was 42-year-old Jon Timms from Witney, a support technician at Harwell science campus.
Before he set off, he said: “It’s the first time I have done a 10k, my girlfriend Karen got me into it. I’m feeling a bit nervous, but if I get around in under an hour I would be happy.”
Deirdre Wilson, 54, flew over from Canberra, Australia, with partner Geoff Williams, who ran the 10k, while his daughter Lauren, from Witney, ran the half-marathon.
Last year’s runners raised £150,000 for BHF by paying between £10 and £23 to enter, and raising sponsorship from family and friends. The charity hopes to beat that this year.
Michael Dodd, 28, a BHF-funded researcher at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington, was among the first-time runners. Ten years ago, his father Ian was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic thickening of the muscle wall of the heart. Mr Dodd has also been identified with the gene, so is at risk.
He said: “It feels like the perfect way for me to give something back to a charity that has been so prominent in my life for many years.”
Coronary heart disease is the biggest cause of death in the UK, with 80,000 deaths a year.
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