Record breaking athlete Steve Cram was on hand to launch the fifth Kielder Marathon.
The 26-mile challenge, billed as Britain’s most beautiful marathon, will take place on Sunday, October 5, following an off-road route around northern Europe’s largest man-made lake, Kielder Water in Northumberland.
The famous Olympic athlete who now has a career in television commentating, said: “I’m delighted that we’re back for a fifth time, maintaining our long running title as ‘Britain’s most beautiful marathon’.
“This year I’m pleased to welcome on board our new partners, Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council. We very much look forward to working with them to continue developing the Kielder Marathon weekend as a real destination event for all active people across the UK.
“The star of the show continues to be Kielder Water, a perfect stage for the most beautiful running and cycling event in the UK.”
Hugely successful and popular with outdoor adventure enthusiasts, Kielder Marathon also has new sponsors, Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council.
Coun Val Tyler, policy board member for community infrastructure and culture at Northumberland County Council, said: “I can’t think of a more beautiful or inspiring place than Kielder to walk, run or cycle as part of a day out or holiday with the family. Kielder Marathon is going from strength to strength each year and I am very proud that Northumberland County Council is supporting Active Northumberland to sponsor this year’s event.
“We want to encourage more people to get active and experience the brilliant outdoors offer we have on our doorstep.”
Event organisers are expecting up to 3,000 runners as part of a whole weekend of activities which includes the Kielder 10K on Saturday, October 4. The other events are Kielder Run Bike Run relay and the Kielder junior races for children.
Last year a record breaking number of entrants took part in the Run Bike Run, which saw more than 200 bikes in use at the transition stations on the course.
Maxine Mayhew, commercial director at Northumbrian Water, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to host this hugely successful event year on year, and in such a spectacular rural environment.
“Held over two days, the events of the whole weekend can give a boost to the local economy and showcase all that the region has to offer.”
Last year’s winner was champion Ceri Rees, who retained his title from 2012 with a winning time of 2hr 43min 55sec. The first female to cross the finish line was Victoria Nealon from Warwickshire with a winning time of 3hr 22min 41 sec.
Bruce Ledger, head of leisure services from Active Northumberland, said: “Active Northumberland is proud and delighted to sponsor the 5th Kielder Marathon.
“We are keen to support and encourage the success of this great event as we are passionate about inspiring local people to live healthier and physically active lives.”
Marathon places are on a first come first served basis. Cost of entry is £37. Runners who deferred their place last year will be contacted separately.
To book a place log on to the event website at www.kieldermarathon.com or call 0845 155 0236 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).