The Town and Gown story

The Town and Gown dates back to 1982 and Blenheim Park in Oxfordshire. Mike Cleaver, whose son Daniel had congenital muscular dystrophy, started the event as a way to raise funds for the charity. The event grew each year, moving into Oxford city centre in 1985 to become the huge race it is today. We have expanded the event into a series, with the Cambridge Town and Gown joining the fold in 2011, and the Leicester Town and Gown in 2017. There was a small stint in Durham along the way too! Our runs have earned their reputation as the runner’s run – professional, chip-timed and serious fun.

The charity behind the run

All proceeds from the Town and Gown series support the work of Muscular Dystrophy UK. We are the charity bringing together the 110,000 people living with more than 60 rare and very rare progressive muscle-weakening and -wasting conditions.

Since 1959, we’ve been here for individuals and families living with muscle-wasting conditions. We provide vital information, advice, resources and support for people with these conditions, their families and the professionals who work with them.

For full information on the charities work visit

But what exactly is muscular dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is an umbrella term for the more than 60 conditions we support. A progressive condition, muscular dystrophy causes muscles to weaken and waste over time, leading to increasing disability. Some conditions affect the heart muscle and vital breathing muscles too, and can cut lives short. There is no cure, and currently few treatments.

Where does my money go?

When you sign up to run a Town and Gown race, you’re helping to beat muscle-wasting conditions. When you fundraise for us, you’re helping to ensure we can continue supporting families living with muscle-wasting conditions, and investing in world-class research to find effective treatments.

Most of your entry fee goes towards the cost of hosting the Town and Gown. Any profits made go directly to Muscular Dystrophy UK. When you make a donation – which we encourage you to do – you’re making even more of a difference to our work. It’s easy to make a donation, or to set up a Just Giving page. And here’s the difference your donations and your participation in the Town and Gown series can make:

  • £16 would ensure parents of a newly diagnosed child get accurate information, vital advice and the support they need via our Freephone helpline service
  • £44 could ensure another hour of scientific research in the drive towards effective treatments and cures for devastating muscle-wasting conditions
  • £48 could enable us to get access – for an individual or families – to a specialist physiotherapist who can show them the valuable muscle-stretching techniques that could keep them or their child walking for longer
  • £691 could provide home device control units, to enable adults with progressive muscle-wasting conditions retain their independence
  • £1,500 would enable us to make a significant contribution towards the cost of a child's powered wheelchair; and enable us to signpost families to further financial support
  • £5,000 could fund a month of pioneering research into the causes of and treatments for progressive muscle-wasting conditions
  • £60,000 would enable us to take a significant step towards treatments and cures for a specific condition, by funding a UK Clinical Research and Training Fellow for a year.

Make a donation