RUNNERS are being urged to make the 10th anniversary OX5 Run the best yet by meeting the ambitious target of raising £100,000 for Oxford Children’s Hospital.

So far, more than 600 people have signed up to take part in the five-mile race around the grounds of Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, on Sunday, March 25.

Organisers are hoping to get 1,000 runners – if each raised £100, the target of £100,000 could be reached.

With just two weeks to go, they are urging more runners to sign up now for the race so the 1,000-runner target will be reached.

Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc started the run last year and will do so again this year, with Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas.

After meeting some of the hospital’s patients at the run, he volunteered to stage a cake-making session for patients last December.

Mr Blanc said: “Having seen first-hand the work that takes place at the hospital and meeting some of inspirational and courageous youngsters treated there, I am proud to be able to support this race again.

“It is a wonderful event that supports an important local cause and I would encourage as many people as possible to sign up today.”

Hospital spokesman Sarah Vaccari said: “We have set ourselves quite an ambitious target this year, but with the help of Oxfordshire’s runners we could meet it.

“The thing that’s really special about the OX5 Run is that it’s local people and businesses coming together to support a charity looking after our children.

“The big message we want to get out is that these next two weeks are our last big push, and we need people to take part.

“We have Raymond Blanc, Oxford United, companies including our sponsors Allen Associates, teams of staff from the hospital, firefighters and many more already signed up.

“With the parents, families and friends of young patients here, they all help to make this a really special day.”

Fundraiser Penny Hambridge added: “The OX5 is the biggest event of the year for the hospital and last year it raised more than £60,000.

“That money is already being put to use funding a relaxation area for teenage cancer patients, as well as a mobile intensive care unit.

“But meeting our target will only happen if all those people who have been thinking they might take part actually decide to do it.”

Oxford United manager Chris Wilder is running the race, together with a team of U’s fans wearing the club’s strip.

Money raised at the run is spent on equipment at the hospital that the NHS cannot fund.