Balmoral's Best Ever - 21 April 2011
Everything is set for a cracking weekend of running and family fun at Balmoral Castle.
The popular RunBalmoral meeting is being held over two days with the Stena Drilling Tartan 10Km, the ConocoPhillips 5Km, the Kongsberg Maritime Secondary Schools 2.5Km and the MPH Primary Schools 1.5Km all taking place on Saturday, 23rd April.
The new Peterofac Multi-terrain half marathon takes place on Sunday.
In addition to the races on Saturday there will be many other attractions to keep the whole family entertained.
Scottish international Andrew Douglas heads a top class field as he bids to defend his title in the Stena Drilling Tartan 10Km.
The Caithness runner faces some tough opposition, however, as the capacity field of 2,500 includes many of Scotland's best distance runners.
Douglas's preparations have been hampered by a niggling foot injury, but he feels ready to mount a spirited effort to win for the second year in a row.
He said:"I've been able to get some decent training done, mostly trouble-free, but I'm still having to be careful because the damaged ligaments are still healing.
"It will just be a relief to get to the start line."
Robert Russell (Central AC), who set the Balmoral course record of 31min 23sec in 2007, is returning for the first time since then, and the Aberdeen-based international is more than capable of regaining the title.
But there are others, such as Home Countries under-20 cross country champion Michael Gillespie (Shettleston Harriers) and 2009 race winner Keith Hood (Corstorphine AAC) who cannot be ruled out.
City of Aberdeen 10Km champion Ben Hukins (Aberdeen AAC) is also sure to offer a serious challenge, while ever-improving hill running specialist Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners), winner of this year's Garioch 10Km, is also sure to be amongst the leaders.
Great Britain marathon international Martin Williams (Tipton Harriers) could also pose a threat despite having had only six days to recover from competing in the London marathon where he was 26th.
North champion Ben Livesey, from Kinloss, will also hope to be in the mix.
Alan Reid (Peterhead Running Club) hopes to retain the prize as first kilted finisher.
Women's course record holder Lyn Wilson (Carnethy) will make a late decision as to whether she'll compete.
The Edinburgh-based Aberdonian, who has won the Balmoral race three times over the past five years, has been struggling with achilles and heel injuries.
She set the record time of 36min 23sec in 2006.
North champion Melissa Whyte (Inverness Harriers), who was second two years ago, could take pole position this time, while the 2004 race winner Clare Whitehead (Deeside Runners) and Alison Docherty (Central AC) will also be well to the fore.
Myles Edwards (Aberdeen AAC) is keen to add to his two previous victories in the ConocoPhillips 5Km which has attracted a capacity field of 1,000.
His rivals include Dan Whitehead (Deeside Runners), Sam Burgess (Aberdeen AAC) and Ray Creswell.
Ben Hukins has also entered the 5Km as well as the 10Km and would be a strong contender to win the shorter race should he choose it over the 10Km.
The course record they'll all be chasing is Ian Reid's 16min 20sec set two years ago.
The women's race brings together some of Scotland's best teenage prospects, with Thurso twins Emma and Oonagh Dunnet lining-up against Banchory Stonehaven's Rhona Auckland and Aberdeen AAC's Ellie Buchan.
The youngsters face a powerful challenge, however, from the 2007 10Km champion Fiona Thompson (Central AC).
The record time they'll all be aiming for is the 18min 16secs set by Pamela Tosh twelve months ago.
Record entries have also been received for the Kongsberg Maritime Secondary Schools 2.5Km and the MPH Primary Schools 1.5Km races.
Adam Gatens holds the boys' record for the Kongsberg Maritime 2.5Km, having recorded 7min 22sec in 2008. He is competing in the ConocoPhillips 5Km this year.
Gemma Cormack set the girls' record of 8min 18sec in 2006.
The course records to beat in the MPH primary schools races are Liam Rae's boys' time of 5min 39sec in 2008 and Mairi Brown's 5min 56sec in the girls' race in 2006.
The Balmoral race programme continues on Sunday when a new event, the Petrofac Challenge multi-terrain half marathon, takes place.
While all of Saturday's races are fully subscribed, there are still places available in the Challenge. Entries will be taken up until 10-30am.
Run Balmoral Race Programme
Saturday 23rd April
11am: MPH Primary Schools 1.5Km Boys Race.
11-25am: MPH Primary Schools 1.5Km Girls Race.
11-50am: Kongsberg Maritime Secondary Schools 2.5Km
12-30pm: ConocoPhillips 5KM
2pm: Stena Drilling Tartan 10Km
(Entries for all the above events have closed).
Sunday 24th April
11am: Petrofac Challenge Multi Terrain Half Marathon
(Entries for the half marathon will be taken on the day).