DEMAND to take part in the first-ever Kielder Marathon has been so high that organisers have had to stage extra events for those who missed out.
A total of 1,700 runners will pound the 26-mile course on Sunday, October 17.
But organisers have had to turn down around 1,300 would-be runners. Yesterday former British Olympic champion, Sally Gunnell teamed up with former North East champion Steve Cram to launch family and team events to complement the marathon.
In addition to the marathon, visitors will now have the chance to take part in a running and cycling relay and there are also separate races for children aged seven to 15.
Ms Gunnell said she had never previously visited Kielder but was looking forward to going with her three sons, Finley, 12, Luca, nine, and Marley, five.
“I’ve heard Kielder Water and Forest Park is an amazing part of Northumberland and an ideal setting for a marathon. For people like me with children it’s superb to see events being organised that can involve everyone in the family and allow you to really make a weekend of it.”
Those disappointed not to secure a place in the main marathon can join forces with colleagues, family members or friends and enter the Run-Bike-Run event taking place the Saturday before the marathon. Teams of three (over-16s) will complete an 11km run, 26km bike ride and a 5km run.
Steve Cram, 49, from Jarrow, South Tyneside, who with fellow Englishmen Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, was one of the world’s dominant middle distance runners during the 1980s, said: “I firmly believe the Kielder Marathon can put the region on the map in the same way as the Great North Run has done.
“Running is still hugely popular but the marathon will not only attract runners, it will attract their family, friends and fans to a beautiful part of Northumberland and help the local economy. Next year we would like more runners to take part, but we limited the number to 1,700 this year to see how the logistics work.
“Ideally the Kielder Marathon will become a popular annual event and a permanent fixture of the North East sporting calendar.”
The children’s events are in three separate age categories and will be held while the marathon is underway on the Sunday. The Osprey is an 800m run for under-10s (minimum age seven), The Roman Mile will see under-13s compete over 1.48km and The Centurion is a 2.5km race for under-16s. Charity places are still available for the Kielder Marathon itself. For availability of Kielder Marathon charity places contact Hazel Munro for Calvert Trust Kielder - 01434 250 232, Julie Wilson for Water Aid -0191 301 6713, Kelly Railton for Carers Northumberland - 07825 952609 or Jane Crow / Viv Williamson for St. Oswald’s Hospice - 0191 285 0063.