Sunday dawned grey and damp - perfect weather for running the MDUK Oxford Town & Gown. The first task of the morning was to assist our fantastic support team in setting up the MRC WIMM Base Camp in University Parks, providing vital pre- and post-race refreshment for our 35-strong team.
As we queued up for the start line our runners were looking remarkably upbeat for their early morning challenge, and I was proud to see a veritable sea of our navy-blue team T-shirts and vests ahead of me.
A wide range of the MRC MHU and MRC HIU labs were represented, as well as admin staff. Ages ranged from DPhil students to veteran PIs, and I was delighted that, in addition to a number of experienced runners, many were taking on 10k for the first time or taking part in their first official race.
As the 10km circuit started to unfold, we had a chance to take in many of the beautiful sites of Oxford. Passing under the Bridge of Sighs at around the 3 km mark, our first team photographer caught the determined MRC WIMM runners starting to get into their stride.
As the route contained several dog-legs, I had the opportunity to see many of my team mates racing in the opposite direction, and it was great to be able to cheer each other on, particularly as the race wore on and legs started to tire. The MRC WIMM did seem to be the most well-represented University institute, as well as the most supportive of each other!
As we started to approach University Parks, it felt as if the challenge was almost over, but this was unfortunately misleading with another 2 km to run around the park. Energy flagging at this point, and running into a slight headwind, I saw Ollie Beaven of the Patel lab start his final acceleration to the finish line, and tried to follow.
The speediest group of runners having already finished, they cheered the rest of us through that final painful few hundred yards.
MRC WIMM golds go to our very own Iron Woman Emily Georgiades coming in at an impressive 42:58, and first man James 'Lightning' Ashford at 42:53. Other strong performers were Matt Gosden at 44:27, Chris Millington at 46:01, Ollie Beaven at 46:59, Ann-Marie Shorrocks at 48:29 and Ruth Williams at 52:27.
Every single member of the team came in under their expected time, and in many cases by some considerable margin. There were so many first-time races and personal bests that it’s impossible to list them all, but I was immensely proud of everyone’s determination to succeed. Many members of the Oxford community commented to me that they had noted the size and strength of the MRC WIMM team.
After we’d caught our breath it was time to collect medals, and catch up with old friends as well as meet some new back at MRC WIMM Base Camp.
Well done to all of Team MRC WIMM, both runners and base camp crew, for supporting such an important local charity event with such good humour.
I hope that this can be the start of a great new MRC WIMM tradition. Bring on T&G 2022!