Scotland’s Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist Robbie Simpson helped launch the 2019 RunBalmoral races last week.
Event chairman James Knowles revealed that all participating runners will, next spring, receive the first in a series of five unique medals.
The 22nd edition of the popular Deeside running festival takes place over the weekend of April 27-28 2019 and entries have now opened, with organisers expecting more than 5500 people to sign up for the programme of eight races catering for all age groups.
Knowles also announced that the Bristow Group had signed up as a new sponsor for the 15-mile and three-mile trail races both of which take place, along with the Apollo Duathlon, on the second day of the biggest running festival in Aberdeenshire.
The opening day of the festival begins with the MPH Primary Schools 1.5km races and the Secondary Schools 2.5km followed by the ConocoPhillips 5km and the Stena Drilling 10km.
Returning for a third year is the Repsol Sinopec Devil of Deeside Challenge. This gruelling event requires competitors to take part in four adult races over the two days – the 5km and 10km on the Saturday, followed by the duathlon and 15-mile trail race on the Sunday.
The man and woman with the best cumulative time from the four races will win a fantastic trophy and prize, and everyone taking part in the challenge will receive a limited edition Devil of Deeside race tee-shirt and running vest.
Knowles added: “We are delighted to welcome the Bristow Group on board for what promises to be another exciting event which never fails to capture the enthusiasm of runners from all over the country.”
Matt Rhodes, director UK & Turkmenistan Oil and Gas at Bristow Helicopters, said: “We are proud to give our support to RunBalmoral which, set across one of Scotland’s most prestigious venues, offers real tests of endurance for runners of all capabilities – many of which our North Sea and Search and Rescue team members have tackled as competitors over the years.
“The Bristow 15 Mile Trail will test the stamina of athletes of all abilities, while the Bristow Three Mile Trail offers a short, steep, multi-surface challenge which puts a different set of running skills to the test.”
Knowles also provided details of the unique new medal collection available to Balmoral runners. He said: “I am also pleased to reveal that the medal to be awarded to every participant in 2019 will be the first of a special series over the next five years, each featuring an iconic landmark within and around the Balmoral estate.
“The 2019 medal will show Lochnagar while in subsequent years we will include the Auld Brig o’Dee, Balmoral Castle, Crathie Kirk and Albert’s Cairn. I am sure these will become collectable items and runners will want to acquire a complete set.”
In addition to his success in the marathon at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Robbie, 26, is also one of the world’s top mountain runners. He has always been a fan of the Balmoral event. One of the first races he tackled was the secondary schools run 14 years ago and he has since gone on to win the 10km and long trail races on three occasions each, setting a number of records.
He said: “Balmoral is such a brilliant event because there’s a race for every age and ability and the courses run through some of the best scenery in Scotland.
“It has the feel of a really big race with thousands of runners and supporters, but some sections of the course through the forest are quiet and it’s a nice contrast. I’d recommend this event to anyone who hasn’t been before as it’s a classic event and a great day out for all the family.”
Knowles went on to pay tribute to the many sponsors, charities and volunteers who contribute to RunBalmoral. He said: “I am grateful to all our sponsors who, despite the harsh realities of the economic climate, continue to give us tremendous support. Not only do they provide financial backing, they also encourage their employees to take part in big numbers, which they do.
“We are currently still looking for a backer for the secondary schools race and would be pleased to hear from anyone who might be interested. As Robbie has shown, this event can be the breeding ground for stars of the future.
“The Balmoral Estate offers one of the most dramatic settings for a running event, not just in the UK, but worldwide. Last year more than 5500 runners of all ages signed up for the programme of eight races, and in keeping with the strong community focus of the event, these runners raised well in excess of £100,000 for local charities.
“We will again be involved with a number of nominated charities in 2019.
“With thousands of spectators coming along to support the runners, the estate will be buzzing and for those not taking part in the races there is an opportunity to visit the Event Village where a range of activities for all ages will be on offer.
“Finally, I’d like to invite runners to enter RunBalmoral as soon as possible by going to our website. Many of the races sold out well before the official closing date last year.”
Full entry details and further information about the event can be found at www.runbalmoral.com and www.facebook.com/runbalmoral
The programme of races is as follows: Saturday April 27 - MPH Primary Schools girls and boys 1.5km; RunBalmoral secondary schools 2.5km; ConocoPhillips 5km; Stena Drilling Tartan 10km. Sunday April 28 - Apollo Duathlon (5km run/20km mountain bike/5km run); Bristow 15 Mile Trail Race; Bristow Three Mile Trail Race.
The Stena Drilling- ConocoPhillips Corporate Team Challenge will be held for the seventh time. Cops and Joggers won the title in 2017 and 2018 after also winning it in 2014 and 2015.
The official RunBalmoral 2019 race charities are: Sue Ryder Dee View Court, Charlie House, Kayleigh’s Wee Stars, SensationALL and University of Aberdeen Development Trust, support dementia research.
Cornerstone is an affiliated charity while Run-4-It is the RunBalmoral 2019 retail partner.