THEY have spent months in hospital fighting cancer.

But yesterday brave youngsters Zac Durkin and Finlay White had their moment to shine and started this year’s record-breaking OX5 Run.

In total 1,200 people finished the five-mile run around the grounds of Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, in an event estimated to have raised more than £100,000 for Oxford Children’s Hospital.

The 11th OX5 had the highest turnout in its history and was once again organised by the Oxford Mail and sponsored by city recruitment firm Allen Associates.

And instead of celebrities starting this year’s race youngsters Zac and Finlay were invited to do the honours – just weeks after they met Prime Minister David Cameron and he gave the OX5 his backing.

Nine-year-old Finlay from Deer Park, Witney, is currently having chemotherapy for bone cancer and after getting the runners off to a flying start he said: “It was great.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Zac Durkin, six, left, and Finlay White, nine, with their parents, from left, Tabatha and Liam Durkin, with Kieran and Susan White


Liam Durkin, 36, of Colwell Drive, Headington, ran for his five-year-old son Zac, who was diagnosed with leukaemia last year, as part of the 29-strong Team Zac and Finlay.

Mr Durkin said: “It has been amazing – so many people have turned out and such a huge amount of money was raised for the hospital.

“And Finlay and Zac really enjoyed it, they have been looking forward to this for a really long time.”

Children’s hospital spokeswoman Sarah Vaccari said seeing so many people give up their Mother’s Day to take part had brought a tear to her eye.

She said: “There were so many stories of courage, hope and bravery among our runners – and that was represented beautifully by our two young official starters.

“We can’t thank the Oxfordshire community enough for their support for the children’s hospital.”

The winner of the race for the second year running was head of the sports centre at Radley College Les Newell, 38, of Little Howe Close, Radley, with a time of 28 minutes and 10 seconds.

He said: “It was great, I’m really pleased to win again. I’ve raised £90 and Fit2Run in Abingdon has agreed to put in another £100.”

Megan Roberts, 23, of Gardiner Close, Abingdon, was the first woman to finish in 33 minutes exactly and said: “It was a great course, there was loads of support.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Megan Roberts

Junior doctor Viz Ravindran, of Marston, Oxford, said he was inspired by the youngsters he treats at the hospital to take part in the run and dressed up as superhero side-kick Robin.

The 25-year-old said: “It was a really brilliant run, the atmosphere was amazing and everyone was talking along the way. And of course it’s for a great cause.”

Lucy Baker, 34, of Bluebell Way, Carterton, ran after her 22-month-year-old Hannah was diagnosed with childhood arthritis. She said: “It’s a cause that really means a lot to us.”

Oxford Mail promotions manager Jo Coady said it was heartwarming to see so many people take part in the event.

She said: “We’d like to thank everyone who took part and Blenheim Palace for again being such wonderful hosts. It was a fantastic event, the sun shone and the support for our runners was incredible.”