31 Oct

'Illuminators' light up Royal Deeside

Almost 1000 runners and walkers lit up the night sky as they blazed their way round the notoriously demanding Illuminator trail race last Saturday night. The route took participants on a 15-mile rollercoaster ride through beautiful ancient forest and barren moorland at the Glen Tanar Estate in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire.

Almost 1000 runners and walkers lit up the night sky as they blazed their way round the notoriously demanding Illuminator trail race last Saturday night. The route took participants on a 15-mile rollercoaster ride through beautiful ancient forest and barren moorland at the Glen Tanar Estate in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire.

Despite the cold, and on high ground even snowy conditions, the event attracted participants to Aboyne from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK. Some were keen to race at Scotland’s toughest night trail event, others to challenge themselves to walking the demanding route at their own paces.

After being on the move for hours with just the glow of head torches to light the way, participants found themselves in a spectacular light zone, where ancient Scots pine trees, a river and an old Victorian bridge were illuminated with a full spectrum of colour – a real buzz and a much-needed mental boost before taking on the second half of the course.

One of the participants reported after finishing the event: “This was my first time doing the Illuminator and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. I can't pick a single best part. A huge stag ran across my path during the run. If anything, that would be my favourite part!”

Other participants commented positively on the inclusivity of the event, which welcomes runners and walkers equally. The contrast of dark and quiet stretches with the colourful illuminations at the light zone was also appreciated, as was the overall friendly and supportive atmosphere among the runners and walkers.

Novices to the event were impressed by the regular checkpoints with enthusiastic and supportive marshals. As another finisher put it: “I love how it’s such an inclusive and social event. The fact that it’s for runners and walkers takes the pressure off and it doesn't feel like a race as such. I also loved how it’s a supported event with support every few miles. That made me feel so reassured.”

Stephanie Provan, who lives in Aboyne and admittedly had the advantage of having trained in the glen and knowing the trails like the back of her hand, was fastest female, with a stunning time of 1hr 58min 30sec. At 1hr 49mins 41sec, Matthew Milne was fastest male.   

The Braemar Mountain Rescue Team supported the event with a strong presence of trained volunteers and impressive vehicles. They are the Illuminator’s nominated charity partner and use the event as a training and a fundraising opportunity. It is expected that the event will raise over £10,000 to help maintain their vital emergency equipment.

Image courtesy Firetrail Events