Runners will be following in the footsteps of Olympic stars and world record holders when the 20th Balmoral races take place over the weekend on Saturday 22nd-Sunday 23rd April .
Paula Radcliffe got the event off to a spectacular start back in the late 1990’s by setting a world record for five miles on a day when the beautiful grounds of the Deeside estate were blanketed in a layer of crisp snow and television cameras beamed live coverage of the dramatic proceedings to millions of viewers.
Subsequently many of the planet’s greatest runners such as Kelly Holmes, Sonia O’Sullivan, Gete Wami and Paul Tergat competed with distinction at the summer home of the royal family, enjoying the scenic splendours of the secure traffic-free courses set within the shadow of Lochnagar and the Cairngorms National Park.
The meeting has grown over the years and is now firmly established as an exceptionally strong and popular community and family event. Today RunBalmoral attracts 5,000 participants over its two days and the programme of races caters for every age group from primary school level up to vintage veterans.
Top north east runners Rhona Auckland and Robbie Simpson, now established Great Britain internationals, cut their teeth by competing in the children’s races at Balmoral before going on to excel in the senior events. Rhona still holds the women’s record for the 5km while Robbie is record-holder for the 10km and the 15 mile trail race. The men’s 5km record stands to Scottish Olympic star Andrew Butchart.
RunBalmoral Chairman James Knowles, said: “The sheer energy, enthusiasm and camaraderie shown by all those who take part every year never ceases to amaze me. The superb atmosphere which prevails throughout the weekend is created not only by the runners, many of whom are raising money for charity,but also by the thousands of spectators who come along to join in the fun.”
The action kicks off on Saturday when 1,000 enthusiastic youngsters take part in the MPH primary schools 1.5km boys’ and girls’ races. That’s followed by the Kongsberg Maritime secondary schools 2.5km which attracts hundreds of 11-15 year-olds. Another 1,000 runners then tackle the ConocoPhillips 5km before the day ends with more than 2,000 in the Stena Drilling Tartan 10km which features the famous Balmoral hill and offers a special prize for the first kilted male and female runners.
The second day allows competitors to explore the remoter wilderness areas of the Balmoral estate, beginning with the Apollo duathlon which comprises a 6km run, then a 15km mountain bike stage before ending with a 5km run. That’s followed by the environmentally stunning TRAC 15 mile trail race and, for, younger athletes and beginners, the TRAC three mile Wee Trail race.
And, to mark the 20th year of the races, a new competition – the Repsol Sinopec Devil of Deeside Challenge – has been introduced, and it has been quick to capture the imagination. Competitors have to take part in four races held over the two days. They’ll start off with the 5km and the 10km on the Saturday, before doing the duathlon and the 15 mile trail race on the Sunday.
The men’s and women’s winners, based on fastest cumulative times, will each receive a specially commissioned hand-crafted trophy and all participants will be given distinctive shirts to wear, making them easily identifiable in all the races.
There’s also a Saturday Corporate Team Challenge. Each team must field four runners in the 5km and four runners in the 10K. The finishing position of each of the four runners in each race will be added together to give an overall score and the team with the lowest combined total from the two races will win.
RunBalmoral Weekend Timetable
11.00 MPH Primary Schools Boys 1.5km
11.25 MPH Primary Schools Girls 1.5km
11.50 Kongsberg Maritime Secondary Schools 2.5km
12.30 ConocoPhillips 5km
14.00 Stena Drilling Tartan 10km
09.30 Apollo Duathlon
13.00 TRAC 15 Mile Trail Race
13.15 TRAC Wee Trail Race