New routes to light up the fifth Illuminator

Organisers of the Illuminator Night Trail Race have created new routes for the event’s fifth edition on Saturday, 26 October, making the event more accessible – and still a worthy challenge.

The original 15-mile long course has been billed as Scotland’s toughest night trail event, taking participants through Glen Tanar’s beautiful ancient Caledonian forest and over exposed heather moorland.

But as organiser Richard Lawes told runABC Scotland online: “Over the years we’ve received a lot of feedback saying: ‘It looks amazing but I don’t feel confident enough to tackle 15 miles at night on a Scottish hillside in October!’ So we’ve added 8km and 15km distances and also opened them to young people from ages 14 and 16 respectively. We look forward to welcoming runners and walkers of a wider age group and physical ability this year.”

And that’s not the only change to the Deeside event. Lawes added: “We’re determined this year to make our event not just more inclusive, but also greener by cutting down on plastic as well as promoting sustainable transport and car sharing.”

The classic 15-mile route has been retained, however, as many returning runners want to prove themselves against their own race results from previous years. The new middle distance of 15km will still give participants the iconic view of a glowing snake of head torch lights bobbing along the trail behind them, and take them over a number of fierce hills. The shortest route measures a little over 8km and, while family-friendly to a certain degree, will still test the participants’ resilience, as they have to labour up the steep side of Craigendinnie to join the runners and walkers from the other two distances.

The Illuminator’s trademark feature, its colourful atmospheric light zone in the middle of Glen Tanar Estate, will be visited by all three routes. Hot drinks and race snacks will be provided there to fuel the participants before their final hill effort on the way back to the event base. The classic route is well marked with reflective signage and no navigation skills are required to take part, but great emphasis is put on participants’ self reliance in terms of equipment.

Braemar Mountain Rescue Association (BMRA) is the Illuminator’s longstanding charity partner. They support this insistence and say that the Illuminator participants are on the whole well-equipped and very conscious of staying safe during this extraordinary event.

Runners and walkers taking part in the event have also been fantastic supporters of the BMRA, raising over £30,000 over the last four years for this crucial emergency service with its hardy volunteers, who regularly put their lives on the line during rescue missions in the most inaccessible places of the Scottish wilderness.

Image: courtesy Illuminator Night Trail Race

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