Britain′s most beautiful marathon unveiled

08.02.2010

Former Olympic athlete and world record holder Steve Cram has today unveiled plans for a new international sports event – the Kielder Marathon.

Scheduled to take place on October 17, the marathon will follow an almost entirely off-road course around northern Europe’s largest man-made lake, Kielder Water, in Northumberland, North East England. Steve Cram MBE, who came up with the idea for the event, has called it ‘Britain’s most beautiful marathon’.

The marathon will follow the newly completed Lakeside Way, a trail that stretches right around the shoreline of Kielder Water. For the inaugural event, the organisers are limiting the number of entrants to around 1,000, and expect to attract runners and outdoor adventure enthusiasts from around the world to the dramatic setting and unique course.

Steve Cram, who is about to head to Canada to commentate on the Winter Olympic Games, has long wished for such an event to be staged in the area around Kielder Water, which is not far from where he now lives.

He said: “Kielder Water & Forest Park is my favourite place to run in the world and with the water’s shoreline being 26 miles long it’s an ideal venue for the ultimate running challenge, the marathon. Most of the course is off-road and it offers a wonderful test for trail runners, adventure racers and marathon enthusiasts alike. Add to that the stunning setting, with a wonderful new view at every twist and turn, and I think that this is quickly going to establish a reputation as the most beautiful marathon in Britain.”

The Lakeside Way, a £3m project which forms the marathon course, is a multi-user trail suitable for walkers, runners, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair and pushchair users. The trail offers visitors new views and the opportunity to interact with even more of the park’s abundant wildlife and take in its scenic landscape.

The Kielder Marathon will measure the official marathon distance of 26 miles and 385 yards and event organisers estimate that the best athletes will complete the race in less than two and a half hours. The event will start and finish at Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park and be part of a whole weekend of activities for all ages and abilities, with a big focus on attracting families to the site.

John Cuthbert, Kielder Partnership chair and Northumbrian Water managing director said: “The breathtaking scenery of the tranquil Park in Northumberland sets it apart from all other national marathons. We’re delighted to host such a special event and really put the region on the map.”

Stacy Hall, director of communications and tourism at One North East, added: "We′re delighted such a prestigious event is taking place in North East England and hope it grows to become bigger and even better in future years. It will boost the regional economy, aid local business and will attract runners and visitors, not just from across the UK but also internationally and we are looking forward to showcasing the region and all it has to offer.”

Regional development agency, One North East, and Northumbrian Water have provided the necessary funding to turn the Kielder Marathon dream into reality and it will be jointly organised by Extra Mile Events and Roberts and Partners. Dave Roberts, who heads up Roberts and Partners, was a co-founder of the Great North Run.

Runners who are interested in registering an interest for a place on the Kielder Marathon can now log on to the event website at www.kieldermarathon.com.

For more information contact Alistair Baker, communications and PR manager, Northumbrian Water, on 0191 301 6851, 07711 793493 or alistair.baker@nwl.co.uk or Philippa Clark, communications advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park) on 0191 301 5538, 07970 897 756 or philippa.clark@nwl.co.uk.

Marathon facts:

1. The word ‘marathon’ comes from when the Olympic Games were first held in Greece in 1896 and runners started from Marathon Bridge.
2. During the 1908 Olympics the Royal Box lay 385 yards after the finish of 26 mile course and participants were required to finish the event in front of the Queen so the additional distance was added.
3. The current men’s world record, as set in official competition, is 2 hours 3 minutes and 59 seconds and was set by Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia on 28 September 08 in Germany.
4. The fastest recorded time for a woman is 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds and was set by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain on 13 April 03 in the London Marathon.
5. More than 800 major marathons are contested throughout the world each year.
6. The region’s most famous half marathon is the Great North Run.
7. In the USA a popular goal is to run a marathon in each state – over 300 individuals have completed this circuit.
8. The world record for the slowest marathon time is six days, four hours, 30 minutes and 56 seconds – completed by Lloyd Scott who was wearing a deep sea diving suit.
9. Some marathons have more than 10,000 runners.
10. The oldest person to complete a marathon is Dimitrion Yordanidis (aged 98) who completed one in Athens in 1976 in seven hours 33 minutes.

Notes to editor:

Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. For more information go to www.visitkielder.com.

The Kielder Partnership is a public, voluntary and private sector collaboration working to develop Kielder Water & Forest Park as an inspirational place for leisure, exploration and fun.

Partners are Calvert Trust Kielder, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Northumberland County Council, Northumbrian Water plus representation from community groups.

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