Fifth Illuminator event will be bigger and brighter than ever

Illuminator Race: Light trails from Baudy Meg, time lapse picture.
Illuminator Race: Light trails from Baudy Meg, time lapse picture.

For the fifth year in a row Deeside’s premier night walking and running event, the Illuminator, will be back on Saturday October 26.

The original 15-mile long course has been billed as Scotland’s toughest night trail event, taking participants through Glen Tanar’s beautiful ancient Caledonian forest and over exposed heather moorland.

Due to requests for a more accessible alternative route, the organisers have added two new, shorter routes, which have made the event more accessible while still offering a worthy challenge.

Organiser Richard Lawes explains: “Over the years we’ve received a lot of feedback saying ‘It looks amazing but I don’t feel confident enough to tackle 15 miles at night on a Scottish hillside in October!’ So we’ve added 8km and 15km distances and opened them to young people from 14 and 16 respectively.

“We look forward to welcoming runners and walkers of a wider age group and physical ability this year. And we’re determined to make our event not just more inclusive but also greener by cutting down on plastic as well as promoting sustainable transport and car sharing.”

The classic 15-mile route has been retained, however, as many returning runners want to prove themselves against their own race results from previous years.

The new middle distance of 15km will still give participants the iconic view of a glowing snake of head torch lights bobbing along the trail behind them, and take them over a number of fierce hills.

The shortest route measures over 8km and, while family friendly to a certain degree, will still test the participants’ resilience as they have to labour up the steep side of Craigendinnie to join the runners and walkers from the other two distances.

The Illuminator’s trademark feature, its colourful atmospheric light zone in the middle of Glen Tanar Estate, will be visited by all three routes. Hot drinks and race snacks will be provided there to fuel the participants before their final hill effort on the way back to the event base.

The route is well marked with reflective signage and no navigation skills are required to take part, but great emphasis is put on participants’ self reliance in terms of equipment.

Braemar Mountain Rescue Association (BMRA) is the Illuminator’s longstanding charity partner. It support this insistence and says that the Illuminator participants are on the whole well equipped and very conscious of staying safe during this extraordinary event.

The Illuminator has also been a fantastic supporter of the BMRA, raising more than £30,000 over the past four years for this crucial emergency service with its hardy volunteers, who regularly put their lives on the line during rescue missions in the most inaccessible places of the Scottish wilderness.

The running equipment shop Run4It will again sponsor impressive voucher prizes for the fastest runners.

The record time for male runners is 1hr 36min 2sec, a time set in 2017 by Aberdonian Sam Milton.