Dark skies is heaven sent

21 April 2015

Northumberland’s famous dark skies put on a good show for runners at Kielder Water & Forest Park this weekend.

More than 80 people turned up to take part in the first ever ‘Dark Skies Run’ on Saturday April 18, 2015.

(photos credit Hippie Nixon Photography).

The race, which started during the daylight, saw entrants running through the sunset and cross the finish line under the stars of the darkest night skies in England.

Race Director, Phill Turton said: “All our entrants had been speculating for weeks on social media as to what the weather would be like but the weather Gods were definitely smiling on us!

“While the temperatures plummeted to nearly zero degrees late on, there was virtually no cloud and the night sky was simply stunning.”

One of the largest Dark Sky Parks in the world, Kielder was awarded gold tier Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Skies association in December 2013, making it the perfect venue for the ultimate starlit running challenge.

Organised by Trail Outlaws and supported by Northumbrian Water, the event followed the Lakeside Way trail around northern Europe’s largest man-made lake.

Runner David Toth, who took part in the 26.5 mile challenge, said: “Seeing the day turning to twilight and the subsequent sunset over the water was stunning and then running the last few miles under millions of stars was absolutely breathtaking.”

For one racer, the Dark Skies Run was the finish of an incredible day that had started at midnight on Friday April 17.

Sunderland Stroller, Malcolm Cox, ran an unofficial marathon distance around Lake Windermere, Cumbria, before cycling the 90 miles to the start line of Kielder’s Dark Skies Run.

Not only did Malcolm finish his second long-distance run of the day, he won the Men’s over 50 category with a race time of 4 hours and 20 minutes.

The overall winner of the Dark Skies Run and first in the Men’s over 40 category was Philip Hewitt who completed the race in 3 hours 50 minutes and 35 seconds.

Claire Baharie, also a member of Sunderland Strollers, was the first female to cross the finishing line in 4 hours 12 minutes and 10 seconds.

For more information contact Janine Scott on 0191 301 6713.

About Kielder Water & Forest Park

Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest working forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was awarded the number one tourism experience in England by VisitEngland 2013, and the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Together with Northumberland National Park, it was granted gold tier Dark Sky Park status in December 2013. For more information see www.visitkielder.com.

About Trail Outlaws

Trail Outlaws was set up in 2014 by North East based Ultra Marathon Trail Runners Phill Turton and Tim Bateson. Their aim is to promote trail running along the trails they love to run in the North East. As well as the Dark Skies Run, 2015 sees the first running of the 200km "Sandstone Way Ultra Marathon" which allows people to run the full length of Northumberland in one go and the "St Cuthberts Ultra Marathon" which starts on Holy Island and follows the 100km St Cuthberts Waymarked trail into Melrose in Scotland. They are also currently developing an urban trail series with the aim of highlighting some of the hidden gems that exist on the outskirts of many of the regions towns and Cities. The first of these events was a half marathon and 10km trail event at Penshaw Monument in Sunderland which was hugely successful and is now into its second year, with an additional marathon event. To learn more visit www.trailoutlaws.com or call 07897 700059.

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