Some of the world’s top athletes will battle it out across the challenging terrain of Kings Park as Great Britain & N.I. take on Europe and the USA in a thrilling team competition over a tough cross country course in one of Scotland’s most iconic locations.
They will be joined by 1,600 people, kick starting their New Year by taking on the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run - a new and exciting multi-terrain course on paths, roads and trails.
The 7km challenge takes runners past the scenic King’s Knot, Beheading Stone, Heritage Trail Wood Carvings and Stirling Castle, offering stunning views of the town, before crossing the finish line back in Kings Park.
Participants and supporters will be able to watch some of the athletics action while wrapped up warm and tucking into the food and drink on offer in the event village.
The Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry features world class talent competing over three races; individual men’s and women’s races with athletes from Great Britain & N.I. taking on the USA and Europe and the innovative mixed relay, where teams of male and female runners will compete over a fast and furious 1.5K lap for the coveted Stewart Cup.
The mixed relay will feature Laura Muir, who will also captain the Great Britain and N.I. team.
Muir, the 2018 1500m European Champion, whose 2019 got off to a flying start following an indoor 5,000m win at the GAA Miler Meet in Glasgow, goes up against two Scotland teams featuring Mhairi Hendry, Steph Pennycook and Adam Craig.
In the men's senior race, three-time winner Garrett Heath will represent Team USA, facing Great Britain’s Andy Vernon and Ross Millington. Team Europe also have high hopes for victory with European XC silver and bronze medalists Isaac Kimeli and Aras Kaya competing.
In the women's race, Europe’s Anna Emilie Moller, the recently crowned European U23 cross country champion, will face competition from a previous winner Kelsy Chmiel of the USA and Great Britain's Kate Avery who took Team Silver at the European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg.
Stirling Council Leader Scott Farmer said: “The excitement is now building as we count down the days to hosting another fantastic, top-class event – the first of many in Stirling in 2019.
“We are looking forward to showcasing our stunning city to a world-wide TV audience as a must-visit destination, while the influx of visitors will also deliver an economic boost at a quieter time of year.
“It’s wonderful news that all the places have been filled in the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run, with participants from all over the country grasping the opportunity to take part in this unique and unforgettable event.
“I am also pleased that Active Stirling will provide a chance for families and young people to try out a range of activities on the day, demonstrating our commitment to get people active as part of this international event.”
Convener for the Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Chris Kane, said: “Fresh from the success of our spectacular Hogmanay celebrations, we are now thrilled to welcome thousands of visitors to our beautiful city again for this prestigious sporting spectacle, reinforcing our blossoming reputation as a host for high-profile sporting events.
“This will be a unique event where people can be inspired by watching elite athletes at close hand, get on their running shoes for the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run and also get involved in a range of fun activities.
“We want this day of top-class sporting action to be the starting gun for anyone, regardless of their fitness levels, to get active and lead healthier lives.”
Bambos Neophytou, Brand Director at Simplyhealth: “We’re proud to be hosting the first Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run this weekend.
“It’s a fresh way to kick start our 2019 programme of running events. It’s such a unique event, giving runners the chance to tackle a multi-terrain course while allowing them to take in the sights as the run takes them through the historic city.
“All while mixing with the world’s running elite who will be there for the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry run. We’re looking forward to joining everyone there to support them every step of the way.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “I am excited to see the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry take place against the spectacular backdrop of Stirling Castle. Scotland is the perfect stage for cross country events of this nature and I’m sure this will be a world-class experience for both the runners and spectators. Best of luck to all the participants on the day.”
Chair of sportscotland, Mel Young, said: “The Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run and XCountry event is a great way to kick off another exciting year of sport for Scotland.
“As the national agency for sport, we are delighted to be involved in an event which encourages participation but also provides inspiration by bringing world-class athletes to Scotland.
“Good luck to everyone competing on the day – whether your goal is an international medal or completing your first run, I’m sure it will be a fantastic experience.”
The Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry is free to spectate and will also be shown live on BBC One from 13:15 on Saturday 12 January.
For more information visit greatrun.org/xcountry
Pictured are some of the elite athletes who will take part in the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry, including Scottish running star, Laura Muir, the 2018 1500m European Champion.