Run challenge under England’s darkest night skies

The star-studded skies in Northumberland International Dark Sky Park above the Lakeside Way. Picture by Ian Glendinning.

The star-studded skies in Northumberland International Dark Sky Park above the Lakeside Way. Picture by Ian Glendinning.

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Runners are being given an ‘out-of-this-world opportunity’ to race under the darkest night skies in England.

The inaugural Dark Skies Run at Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland, will take place on Saturday April 18.

One of the largest Dark Sky Parks in the world, Kielder was awarded gold tier Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Skies association in December 2013, making it the perfect venue for the ultimate starlit running challenge.

Organised by Trail Outlaws and supported by Northumbrian Water and the Forestry Commission, the 26.5 mile challenge will start at Hawkhirst Scout Activity Centre and follow the Lakeside Way trail around northern Europe’s largest man-made lake.

Entries into the unique race, which will take place during International Dark Skies week, will open at midday on Sunday, February 8.

With space for just 300 people to take part, event organisers are urging people to book their place quickly.

Ultra Marathon runner and organiser, Phill Turton said: “We’ve ran in events all over the north of England, but a late training run around Kielder Reservoir was something we’d never experienced before.

“The combination of the stunning Lakeside Way Trail and Kielder’s darkening skies made this something really special. It sounds crazy but it wasn’t just running, it was an almost spiritual experience and we knew we had to share it with other runners in an organised event.”

Customer experience manager at Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park, Peter Pattinson, said: “We’re really excited about this long distance race. It’s a special opportunity for runners to take advantage of our starry skies as this is a run that’s not normally allowed. Safety is our top priority – the event is organised by professionals and head torches are mandatory.

“This event adds to the growing number of sporting events available at Kielder both on the water and in the forest.”

Entries are open from midday on Sunday February 8 at www.trailoutlaws.com. The price is £40 and entries are restricted to over 18s only.