A running event in the historic Aberdeenshire town of Huntly has played a major part in rejuvenating a local community festival.
Room to Run has grown significantly since its inception in 2014 thanks to support from the local business community. Coinciding with the Huntly Hairst, an annual food and farming festival, Room to Run has contributed significantly to the success of the festival.
The races – 5km, 10km, children’s and half marathon (new for 2019) – start and finish in the town’s main square, where more than 60 local artisan food and craft stalls attract crowds upwards of 2,500.
Inspired by the success of a local 'Couch to 5K' Jog Scotland group, the inaugural Room to Run was designed as a target event for the group’s participants to work towards. With six weeks to get everything organised, the initial 5km race attracted 120 runners.
In its second year, Huntly Sports Hub, part of sportscotland’s National Lottery-funded community sport hub programme, took over the project as part of their key activities. The hub received support from Huntly & District Development Trust, local charity Networks of Wellbeing and the local running group, Huntly Rinnin’ Quines and Loons.
The hub reached out to local businesses to gauge their support and received an immediate response. Dean’s, a leading family-run Scottish shortbread producer who are also based in Huntly, sponsored the event, with the children’s races conveniently named after the company’s promotional mascot, Wee Shortie.
Dean's continue to support the races and Siobhan Ingram, brand manager, said: “Room to Run has grown to become a major event within the local area and we are thrilled to be a part of it.
"To support an event which encourages the wider community to be fit and healthy supports our own aims of maintaining a healthy workforce.”
Huntly Community Sport Hub chairperson Bruce Murray added: “Local businesses like Dean’s have really embraced the race. Dean’s has been associated with Room to Run since it started and the event has been an ideal platform for them to continue to raise brand awareness, support the local community and be part of a successful and growing event.”
Now in its fifth year and having sold out every year since 2015, the event is expected to attract more than 1,300 participants this year with the new half-marathon adding a new dimension.
The growth in numbers has led to an increase in the number of stallholders, offering more food and drink choices to the runners as they cross the line in the town’s main square – and the supporters who cheer them over the line.
Room to Run is very much a whole community event, appealing to runners and non-runners alike. The original sponsors have remained on board and the growth of the event has attracted oher local businesses to support it and helped event promote sport, health and wellbeing in the community.
Room to Run has become a keystone in the Visit Aberdeenshire tourism calendar and continues to give more back to the local community.
Bruce explains: “Sponsorship from local businesses has helped to keep the entry prices as low as possible and supported the key costs of running the event such as medals, T-shirts, goodie bags and first aid, amongst other costs.
“All surplus funds are reinvested back into the local community to provide health and wellbeing initiatives around the local area.
"Thousands of pounds have now been distributed to a variety of sporting and wellbeing groups. Room to Run has recently funded the installation of a defibrillator within the Huntly Town Centre, with more projects in the pipeline.”