TOWN & GOWN: 'I'm running for John'

Kelly Sambrook with her nephew John Dickson. Picture: Anthony Thompson

Kelly Sambrook with her nephew John Dickson. Picture: Anthony Thompson Buy this photo

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

RUNNERS are already beginning their preparations for this year’s Oxford Town and Gown run.

The May 12 run, backed by the Oxford Mail, will raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Entries are now open at townandgown10k.com.

Over the next few months we will be following novice runner Kelly Sambrook, 37, who has a personal reason for taking part in the 10k, which makes it way through famous city landmarks.

Her nephew, John Dickson, nine, of Bledington, near Chipping Norton, is one of the many youngsters who could benefit from the work done by the charity. Here she talks reporter Fran Bardsley through her first training diary.

It’s six o’clock on a Monday night, zero degrees outside and I've just got home from work wanting nothing more than to curl up on the sofa.

Instead I change into mismatched trackie bottoms, hoodie, hat , scarf and gloves and head back out into the cold for a little run around.

As someone who’s always considered a couple of hours on the dancefloor in four inch heels on a Saturday night to be the only acceptable form of exercise, what has possessed me?

The reason for this madness is my gorgeous nine-year-old nephew, John who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is weakening his muscles.

Living with Duchenne is challenging – getting the right practical advice and support and funding vital equipment like powered-wheelchairs can be a struggle.

John uses a manual wheelchair and his dad, my brother Paul, and his mum, my sister-in-law Angela, are working hard to raise £20,000 for an all-terrain electric wheelchair, which will mean, woods, parks, fields and snow are no longer off limits.

John travels to Great Ormond Street every week to take part in a clinical trial. This is why I am lacing up my trainers and taking up running for the first time.

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Muscular Dystrophy Campaign funds the development of treatments for conditions like Duchenne and supports those affected.

Last year’s Town and Gown race raised £100,000 with £50,000 going straight to a Duchenne research project based in Oxford.

This year they’re aiming to beat that. So spurred on by Paul and Angela I’ve agreed to do something I never thought I’d do.

The Town and Gown is going to be a family affair, with Angela, my cajoled boyfriend and I tackling the 10k run and John’s 11-year-old big sister Hannah taking on the children’s race.

All of which leaves me feeling a tad under pressure to make sure I make it around the course.

I’ve found an app which promises to turn me from a couch potato into a 10k runner in just 14 weeks. And I only have to train three times a week. It sounds almost do-able.

Over the next couple of months I will be keeping you updated on my progress. Now – following the snow and a legitimate excuse to miss two sessions – I am on training session number three. See how I get on in my next column on Tuesday, March 5.

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