Magnificent Ethiopian Opportunity for Balmoral Runners - 9 January 2012
The men's and women's champions in the Petrofac Challenge 15 mile run at Balmoral Castle this year will win a trip to a major race in Ethiopia supported by double Olympic champion and multiple world record-holder Haile Gebreselassie.
The prize is the most valuable ever offered in a north east running event and organisers are hopeful that it will persuade many of Scotland's top distance runners to make the journey to Deeside over the weekend of April 28th-29th.
James Knowles, Chairman of Balmoral Road Races, believes the prize will prove to be a big attraction.
He said:"Our programme of races at Balmoral offers something for runners of all ages and abilities, but we felt we wanted to go a step further by doing something positive and exciting to promote opportunities for Scotland's best athletes.
"Ethiopia is one of the strongest distance running countries in the world and we have developed some good contacts over there.
"This has allowed as to put together a package which will give the men's and women's winners of the Petrofac Challenge the chance to compete in a top Ethiopian race.
"The event, a half marathon, is being organised by Haile Gebreselassie, the double Olympic champion who is generally considered to be the greatest distance runner the world has ever seen.
"It's more than likely that the Balmoral race winners will get the opportunity to meet Gebrselassie when they travel to Africa."
The Ethiopian, who has won four world titles and set 27 world records during a long and glittering career, hopes to compete in the marathon at next year's London Olympics where he aims to add to the gold medals he won in the 10,000m at the 1996 and 2000 Games.
He has also been instrumental in setting up the Great Ethiopian 10Km run and the Hawassa half marathon, both of which have proved popular with African and overseas runners.It is the half marathon which the Balmoral race winners are likely to take part in.
Banchory's Robbie Simpson, winner of the Petrofac Challenge at Balmoral last year, admits he's excited by the opportunity of competing for a trip to Africa.
The Scottish mountain running international said:"It sounds really great. Having a top prize like this will probably attract some good runners to Balmoral, which is great.
"I'm looking forward to doing the race again, especially with it being a 15 miler this year compared with 13 miles last time.
"There aren't too many races of this type, where you've got some parts on road and some off road, so it should be attractive to a lot of runners."
The Petrofac Challenge is one of a series of races being held at Balmoral over the race weekend.
The programme opens on Saturday 28th April with the Stena Drilling Tartan 10Km and the ConocoPhillips 5Km races for adults, as well as the Kongsberg Maritime secondary schools 2.5Km and the MPH primary schools 1.5Km .
The following day there is the Petrofac Challenge and the Taqa Bratani Diamond Jubilee Mile.
Entries for all the races can be made online at www.runbalmoral.com