Balmoral Castle the backdrop to the race

McKnight family will cross the atlantic to run at Balmoral - 6 January 2014

Three members of the same American family will travel more than 4,500 miles to take part in the inaugural Balmoral Wee Trail race in April.

Dallas-based Gates McKnight and his wife Janet will be joined by Gates's brother Philip, from Arkansas, for the testing three mile run around the Royal estate.

We caught up with the family to ask what inspired them to chose to join us on Deeside this coming April. Here's what they told us:

Why are you coming to Balmoral for this event and what made you all choose the Wee Trail race?

"We love to travel and this year it is to Scotland. While Gates is the real runner of the group we all enjoy trail runs. After much convincing and persuading, Gates conceded to do the Wee Trail race with Janet and Phillip, instead of the longer distance. (He really wanted to do the 15mile!) We thought it would be fun to do as a family event."

How did you hear about the Balmoral races?

"Once we decided we were going to Scotland we began looking for a local event that would fit our time frame, and would be fun to do. We found the information about the race on the internet. Since we enjoy trail runs it seemed a perfect race for us to do.

What are your expectations of the Balmoral races?

"To have a grand time! See a little of the Scottish countryside and meet a few locals. Trail runs are not about how fast you finish, it is how exciting the journey!"

Have you taken part in any other running events in Scotland/UK?

"No, this is our first."

What background do each of you have in running? 

"Gates is the real runner of the group. He ran his first marathon, “White Rock Lake” in Dallas TX in 2004. Since then he has completed 15 marathons, numerous half’s, and most recently got into Trail running. He has completed several  50K’s and achieved his first 50 mile race at Rocky Raccoon.

Phillip has completed several half marathons and some 10K trail runs.

Janet is a walker and has completed several half marathons and 20K trail Runs. Janet started walking because she needed something to do while waiting on Gates to finish his marathon!"

What would you say are your most memorable achievements as runners?

"Finishing the race! Gates runs for the mental exercise as well as the physical."

What else should we know about you?

"The real story is that on May 3rd, 2009 Gates suffered a heart attack while running in the Eugene Oregon Marathon. He was doing fine until mile 16 when he began to feel bad. He slowed down and struggled to complete the marathon, which he did! When he returned to the hotel friends realized he was in bad shape, and called 911. Paramedics confirmed he was having a heart attack and he was taken to a Heart Institute in Eugene. Within in an hour and a half he had heart surgery, a shunt was inserted, and he was back in his room. Doctors said his excellent physical condition and the action of his legs kept the blood pumping to his heart and kept him alive. His love of running got him going again and he completed his next marathon on November 18th, 2009 in Grand Rapids only 6 months after his heart attack!"


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