THE number of runners signed up to the OX5 Run passed the 1,000 mark yesterday.
It is the highest number of runners the Oxford Children’s Hospital has seen with three weeks to go until the charity five-mile event in the grounds of Blenheim Palace.
The run, on March 30, is the hospital’s biggest annual fundraiser for the Headington hospital.
Last year 959 runners crossed the finish line but so far 1,008 people have registered for this year’s run.
It means 2014 is on track to be a record-breaking year.
Josh Kirby, from Bucknell, near Bicester, helped celebrate crossing the 1,000 mark while he was being treated at the hospital on Thursday.
The 10-year-old was born with cystic fibrosis and has to visit hospital every few months to fit a line into his arm for intravenous antibiotics.
He said: “The hospital is good. It has nice people – like the doctors and nurses. They make it fun.”
His dad James Kirby said the hospital is a bit like a second home to the family now.
He added: “When we first realised he had cystic fibrosis it was a bit of a shock.
“It was unexpected but the hospital and staff have always been there for us.
“It’s not scary for him. It’s not daunting to him if we say he has to come in to hospital and he enjoys the school there.”
The OX5 Run last year raised £98,000 for new hospital equipment and facilities.
Play specialist at the hospital Sam Mortlock said: “It is so important because it buys the things which makes it so much better for the children when they are there.
“All the toys and things distract them from whatever is going on and makes it fun.”
Because of the number of people who have already signed up for the run, this year people will not be allowed to register on the day.
Children’s hospital spokeswoman Sarah Vaccari said: “We are thrilled that with three weeks until the run more than 1,000 people have already registered to take part.
“This is the best response we have ever had so it should be an amazing day.
“If you, your family, friends or colleagues are planning on registering please do so soon to avoid disappointment.
“This event really does make a huge difference to the children we look after, and the more sponsorship money our runners raise the more we are able to purchase to make life in hospital that little bit easier for our young patients and their families.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has already signed up for the run and also to all the families who have shared their stories about their hospital experiences with the Oxford Mail.”
To sign up, go to oxfordmail.co.uk/ox5run