Thousands of runners and spectators will be in Northumberland over the weekend for ‘Britain’s most beautiful marathon’.
The Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon takes place on Saturday and Sunday, attracting participants from around the world with the promise of the stunning Northumbrian landscape.
Now entering its eighth year, the race has grown in popularity to become one of the region’s top sporting events and is a firm favourite with both professional and amateur athletes because of its scenery and the opportunity to run off-road.
The weekend is organised by Events of the North, a company led by Olympians Steve Cram and Allison Curbishley, in conjunction with Northumbrian Water, Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council.
The curtain-raiser will be the Kielder Walking Event, on Friday, in which 175 walkers will complete two, four and six-mile routes in and around Kielder, following a successful pilot in 2015.
On Saturday, it’s the turn of the 10k and Run Bike Run competitions, followed on Sunday by the half-marathon and junior runs.
The main event on Sunday gives runners the opportunity to tackle an almost entirely off-road course, which loops around the shores of Kielder Water – Europe’s largest man-made lake.
Coun Val Tyler, the county council’s cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, said: “This will be a superb weekend of fun and fitness for all of our runners and I cannot think of a major sporting event in a more stunning location.
“A number of people will be bringing the family and making a short break out of it, taking the opportunity to explore the wider area and enjoy our famous hospitality, while for others it will be strictly business as they push themselves to achieve the best possible finish.
“Spectators can get in on the action too, soak up the atmosphere and maybe have a picnic at one of our amazing vantage points dotted around the lake. If past years are anything to go by, we should expect an amazing atmosphere and a very memorable weekend of sport. I would also like to wish good luck to everyone taking part, including our staff and members of the public who won free competition places.”
Steve Cram added: “From year one, the Kielder Marathon weekend has been a favourite of runners – and duathletes – from near and far. We have gradually added to the programme of events and every time we have introduced a new race, it has proved to be popular. It’s going to be our biggest weekend ever at Kielder this year, which is really exciting for both competitors and spectators.
“People simply love running, cycling or walking in these stunning surroundings and who can argue with them? It really is a fantastic setting and huge credit is due to Northumbrian Water, Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council for hosting such a great festival of sport here.”
David Hall, head of leisure strategy at Northumbrian Water, said: “We are anticipating another excellent weekend of sporting activity for the whole family to enjoy, culminating in the Kielder Marathon on Sunday. The park and ride system will help people to get from designated parking in Falstone village to the race site, while there will also be shuttle busses helping spectators get to various viewing points around this most beautiful of courses.
“We wish all of the competitors across the weekend the best of luck and hope that everyone who makes the trip to Kielder has a fantastic time, enjoying one of the most picturesque sporting events in the world.”
As sponsors of the KIelder Marathon weekend, Active Northumberland ran a series of competitions to win a free place in each of the activities taking place, with six members of the public and 19 members of staff winning a place.
Everyone who takes part will receive a Tech T-shirt, medal and goody bag, while special prizes are also available for the three best-placed men and women runners, as well as those in different age groups.
A park and ride system will be in operation to ferry runners and spectators back and forth, and there will be a secure baggage area at Leaplish Waterside park. Tired and weary participants can also take advantage of a post-race massage to soothe their aching limbs.
Visit http://kieldermarathon.com for more information.