It’s been a long three years for anyone involved in organising events, but with the return of Run Garioch this Sunday, race support manager Christine Appel is in an optimistic mood.
Thousands of names flooded in when entries for the Inverurie event opened in January, as runners booked themselves a spot in the 10k, 5k, half-marathon, and junior races.
But Christine explained, as much as Run Garioch is about running, it is also hugely focused on bringing together the community in which it is held.
She thinks, 16 years after it was first held, it is perhaps only now being fully recognised for this.
Christine said: “I think a lot of people are realising now that we are a community fundraiser (as well as a race).
“Some people maybe think that because of the scale the event is at, it must be a commercial event.
“But we work closely with football clubs, like Colony Park FC, and we have an event village on-site which features charities and community groups.”
‘Everyone has a goal’
The money raised from Run Garioch will go towards supporting Garioch Sports Centre, an essential facility for sports and community groups in the area.
Christine added: “We’ve given everyone a goal to work towards over the winter – we are still here and want to see everyone out (at Sunday’s event).
“It’s not just sports groups that use the facility – there’s a wide range of people who use it, including groups for the elderly, so it’s important to support a local facility which helps so many people.”
Christine says those organising this year’s running festival have felt, after three years, people are determined to return to community settings and help put events back in the calendar – with some travelling large distances to get involved this weekend.
“People are just really keen to get out and support local events again,” she said.
“There’s something special about Aberdeenshire – a lot of people have lived in Inverurie and then been posted away for work, but they want to come back and support their hometown. It’s really pleasing to see.
“People don’t forget about Aberdeenshire when they go away.”
654 runners to battle it out
Start lists include names from running clubs based as far away as Edinburgh, Crawley, and Norwich, with other runners entering from the likes of Dundee and Arbroath.
A total of 654 runners will battle it out in the first event of the day, the PMC-sponsored 5k, which starts at 9.15am.
Inverness’s Jenny Bannerman, Ambleside’s Carolyn Milne, and Metro’s Hazel Wyness will all be ones to watch in this one.
The flagship 10k event, which is sponsored by housebuilders Dandara, was won by Richard Strachan and Nicola Gauld in 2019 – and both runners have entered again this year in a bid to retain their titles.
Gauld and Strachan are just two of 1,048 entrants in the 10k race, which starts at 10.30am, and will take runners through the streets of Inverurie and then out towards the reservoir – known locally as Polinar Dam.
The half marathon, meanwhile, encompassing both Chapel of Garioch and Polinar Dam on its route from the sports centre, starts at 10.15am.
The junior runs in the afternoon, which are for those aged 13 and above, have an impressive 1,033 entrants listed.
Around 140 race marshals will be involved on the day to direct runners to the finish line on Burghmuir Drive.
Run Garioch is far from being merely a collection of races, however – catering, children’s activities, and physiotherapy are all available on the day, which begins at 9am when the event village opens.
The event is expected to finish at approximately 3pm in the afternoon following the prizegiving for the winners in the junior races.