Entries are open for a brand-new running challenge which will give participants the chance to be part of a day of world-class sporting action in Stirling.
The Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run will take place on Saturday, 12 January 2019, with runners taking on a 7KM off-road course through some of Stirling's most iconic locations, while international athletes compete in the world-famous Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry event which moves from Edinburgh to Stirling, the ancient capital of the country.
Runners in the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run will take on a challenging multi-terrain course through historic Stirling on paths, roads and trails, starting and finishing in Kings Park which will be home to the event village for the day of action.
The scenic course will cover Stirling Golf Course, King’s Knot, the Beheading Stone, Castle Cannons, famous wood carvings as part of Stirling's heritage trail and Stirling Castle including a section on Gowan Hill, before crossing the finish line in Kings Park.
Waves will set off throughout the day with a choice between morning and afternoon slots available to runners while the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry will take place, with thousands of spectators expected to take up vantage points around the course.
The Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry moves to Stirling after 13 years in Edinburgh, with the new location providing a fresh backdrop for the live, televised event on the grass and hills around Stirling Golf Club and in Kings Park, as international and domestic athletes battle it out for honours.
First staged in the North East of England in 1988, before moving to Scotland, the event has a rich history of elite competition and has seen athletes such as Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele, Paula Radcliffe, Liz McColgan and Haile Gebrselassie compete.
In recent years the crowds have been treated to performances from Sir Mo Farah as well as Scottish athletes Laura Muir and Callum Hawkins, with the hugely popular inter-district races giving the stars of the future the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s top athletes.
The new event is the latest to be announced for Stirling which will again host the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Run marathon and half marathon events on April 28 2019 and further develops the partnerships between organisers Great Run, EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, sport scotland – the national agency for sport, Scottish Athletics and Stirling Council.
Great Run Company chairman Brendan Foster said: "We're delighted to announce a brand new event for Stirling in 2019.
"As we have already learned with the development of the marathon and half marathon as part of the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Run 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 Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry will make it a real festival of sport on the day.
"The Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry is a world-class prestigious event with a rich history and a bright future - and we are looking forward to seeing everyone on January 12."
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, said: “EventScotland has a long history with the XCountry, having supported the event since it came to Scotland in 2005. We are delighted to be continuing our support for the XCountry in its new location in Stirling as well as the new Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run.
“Like the previous editions of the event in Edinburgh, the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry and Castle Run will provide the ideal start to our exciting year-round portfolio of international sporting events, utilising our amazing natural environment and the iconic backdrop of Stirling Castle to show runners, spectators and the TV audience why Scotland is the perfect stage for events.”
Councillor Scott Farmer, Stirling Council Leader, said: “This exciting event will allow residents and visitors to participate in a prestigious sporting spectacle on a truly unique course.
“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.”
Councillor Chris Kane, Convener of the Community Planning and Regeneration Committee at Stirling Council, said: “Ensuring this event was part of the championships shows Stirling Council’s commitment to promoting the health and well-being of our citizens.
“Any opportunity people to get moving and lead active lives should be applauded, and I would encourage as many Stirling residents as possible to take up the challenge, conquer the castle, and make the perfect start to 2019.”
Scottish athlete Luke Traynor has competed over the cross country in its previous location in Edinburgh and is delighted the event has been kept in Scotland for 2019.
The 25-year-old, whose third-place finish in the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run earned him the Scottish Half Marathon Championship crown a fortnight ago, said: "I'm looking forward to seeing the Great Stirling XCountry as it moves to a new location.
"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."
Chair of sportscotland, Mel Young, said: “The Stirling Castle Run and XCountry will be a fantastic celebration of international athletics with opportunities for local people to take part through the mass-participation event.
“The positive power of sport and physical activity can be seen every day in communities across the country thanks to the fantastic work of community sports hubs, clubs and the wider sporting system and events such as this can only add to that. We look forward to working with our partners on this project in the months ahead.”
Mark Munro, Chief Executive of scottishathletics, said: “We’re looking forward to an exciting event when the International XC and the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run come to Stirling early in the New year.
“It’s a great opportunity for athletics fans in Scotland to watch world class athletes compete in cross country and then we combine that programme with our own Inter-Districts races, with the best club athletes from our three regions involved in their team colours.
“With the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run on-going too, and over 7K this year, I think there’s a chance for many others who are enjoying the current running boom to be part of the day by taking on the run and also watching the International XC and Scottish Athletics Inter-District XC events.
“I’m sure Stirling will be an ideal host and venue and, in terms of our club athletes from the North, East and West it should be more accessible and central than in recent years.”
To find out more about the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry and to enter the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run visit greatrun.org/great-stirling-castle-run.