A massive field of 750 runners are expected to show their love for Stamford Striders’ annual St Valentine’s Day 30k race on Sunday.
The tough, 18-mile course starts at Queen Eleanor School and runs through Tolethorpe, Careby, Pickworth and Great Casterton, and the race, now in its 19th year, attracts runners from across the country.
The event, as well as raising money for local charities, has won national acclaim in the athletics calendar and all 750 places were sold out well in advance.
Race Director, Nick Wells, said: “We were particularly pleased that Runners World rated the Valentine’s 30k second in its category in the UK’s Top Races of 2011.
“It’s a tough but beautiful, rural course, and with around 100 Stamford Striders and their family and friends lining the course as marshals and supporters, it is renowned for its tremendously friendly atmosphere.”
The race starts at 11am and drivers are urged to take care along the route, which will be marked out and marshalled until around 4pm.
Course manager Brian Kearsey said: “If you see the runners passing by, please give them encouragement because they will definitely appreciate it.”
Despite the undulating nature of the route, the men’s Valentine’s 30k record stands at a speedy 1hr 38 mins, set by Martin Cox, of Bristol and West Athletics Club in 2005.
A new women’s record was set last year at 1hr 53mins by Sarah Harris of Long Eaton Running Club, although the first three ladies to cross the line all broke the previous course record.
Many top runners use the race as training for the London Marathon in April, and with some very capable athletes in the starting line up, the men’s and women’s records could be broken again this year.
Stamford’s Aaron Scott and Philippa Taylor will aim once again to be among the front-runners.
Scott was second last year and this year runs for Notts Athletics Club, while Taylor, running for Nene Valley Harriers, was 19th in last year’s race and the third woman to cross the finishing line.