There was a strong international flavour to the 36th Muscular Dystrophy UK Town and Gown 10K at Oxford on Sunday (14 May) as local character Paul Fernandez (M40, 32:36) turned over a field of 3,665 finishers. The Oxford-based teacher is probably better known as the Guinness World Record holder for the fastest marathon dressed as a clown (2:50:44).
Fernandez is an England international ultra-distance runner and current GB Trail Running champion as well as the third best all-time British runner over six hours. So 10k in the Abingdon Ambler's home city centre was a mere bagatelle to this accomplished endurance athlete.
The nearest opposition came in the form of Oxford City's Jonathan Holmans (33:05) and Jose Bilbao (33:12), of Spanish club Oriente Atletismo based in the Asturian seaside resort of Llanes.
Gus Greenstein (33:41), James Eve (M40 Headington Road Runners, 34:08) and Rahil Sachak-Patwa (Oxford University, 34:13) completed the top six as an impressive 140 athletes finished inside 40 minutes.
The women's leader board also included athletes from overseas with a narrow win for Karolina Wasniewska (37:38), of Biegiem Radom in Poland, from Jessica Webb (Woodstock Harriers, 37:47) and Gwyneth Everson (38:40). Quality running from local athlete Martha Lloyd (Oxford City, 38:47) just missed out on a podium place.
The Town and Gown 10K series is a great way of supporting Muscular Dystrophy UK and raising much needed funds to fight against muscle-wasting conditions, which affect over 70,000 people in the UK. Town and Gown 10K races have raised over £1.9 million through the efforts of participants who sign up to the events and fundraise for the charity.