The city of Stirling is on course to become the running capital of Scotland next year with three major events.
In January, the BBC will televise the Great Stirling XCountry race after city councillors in Edinburgh pulled the plug on an event that the capital had hosted for 13 years – over funding fears.
Organisers the Great Run Company promptly announced that the race – that has featured the likes of Sir Mo Farah and Scotland’s own Laura Muir – would be retained by Scotland when Stirling saw the opportunity and moved in.
Entries also opened earlier this month for the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run, a 7km public event that will take place on the same day as the international meet, on Sunday January 12.
The Great Run Company, famed for the Great North Run in Newcastle, will also stage its only marathon – the Scottish Stirling Marathon on April 28th next year – and a half-marathon event; both occur on the same day as the London marathon, which has helped spark an upsurge of interest in those who are unsuccessful in the ballot to enter the most famous marathon in the world.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot of interest in the [Stirling] marathon,” said a company spokesman. “There are 400,000 people applying for the London marathon, and many who don’t make it will want to do something [else].”
Chairman Brendan Foster said: “As we have already learned over the last two years, Stirling is a city that embraces sport and activity and I’m sure this event will prove to be just as popular with runners.
“Having the event take place at the same time as the Great Stirling XCountry will make it a real festival of sport on the day.
“The Great Stirling XCountry is a world–class, prestigious event with a rich history and a bright future.”
Stirling Council leader Scott Farmer said: “The route will be challenging yet inspiring, encompassing a number of Stirling’s iconic and historical landmarks and showcasing the area’s stunning scenery, making it an unforgettable experience for entrants.
“Having this mass-participation run will generate an incredible atmosphere in the city and we are looking forward to welcoming people from across the world for this special occasion, which will bring huge economic and health benefits to the area.”
Scottish Half-Marathon Champion Luke Traynor said: “This event has been a major part of the recent success from Scottish distance runners and I’m pleased that it has been kept in Scotland rather than moving anywhere else.
“I’m sure the people of Stirling and further afield will turn out in large numbers to cheer on the athletes and maybe take part in their own challenge, with the new trail run taking place at the same time.”