Organisers of Run Garioch are looking to the future with optimism following the cancellation of the 2021 event.
The Inverurie-based festival of running includes a 5k, 10k, half marathon and children’s races.
The event in recent years has attracted top north-east Scotland internationals Robbie Simpson, Kyle Greig and Nicola Gauld.
But it has a broad appeal reaching beyond the elite, with close to 3,000 participants of all ages taking part.
Significant sums are raised for local charities and organisations such as the Garioch Sports Centre.
The event is traditionally held in March, but was forced to postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic.
An alternative date in September was then set with the hope that the situation would have improved sufficiently for it to go ahead.
However, government guidelines still do not allow for events of this scale at the moment, leading to its final cancellation for 2020.
Race support manager Christine Appel is disappointed but excited by the prospect of the 2021 event being better than anything that’s gone before.
She said: “Moving the event to next year has given us the chance to rethink our traditional date.
“It will go ahead on May 16, which is almost two months later than usual.
“We have had problems with the weather in recent years.
“On one occasion we had to re-route the half marathon because of snow and ice and in another year strong winds blew away a charity tent.
“So pushing it back to May should lessen the chances of these things happening.
“It’ll be better for our fringe activities as well and may allow us to add more activities to our event village.
“If the date proves more popular we can also look to increase the capacity to allow more people to take part.”
Appel appreciates, however, that many runners will still be disappointed that the races won’t be going ahead this year.
She said: “We had hoped that postponing Run Garioch until September 13 would have allowed us to hold the event as ‘normally’ as possible.
“However, even with the recent announcements easing Scotland out of lockdown, it’s clear to us that it just won’t be possible for the race committee and the Garioch Sports Centre to organise and deliver the event our runners, spectators, charities, sponsors, patrons and volunteers would have wanted.
“So it is with great regret that we feel we must follow the same course of action taken recently by other Scottish road racing events – like Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival and the Scottish Half and 10k – and cancel the 2020 edition of Run Garioch.
“We realise that this news will be disappointing for everyone, but we do feel it is the best course of action given the current uncertainty around sporting events and large gatherings.”
Various options available for 2020 Garioch entrants
Runners who entered the 2020 Run Garioch races are being given a number of options by the event organisers.
They can defer their entry to 2021, transfer it to another person or receive a part refund.
Race support manager Christine Appel said: “Those who would like to run next year don’t need to do anything.
“Their entries will be automatically transferred and a new timing chip and race number will be mailed out next spring.
“Those wishing to transfer their entry to another runner or would prefer a part refund need to tell us their preference.
“We have e-mailed everyone with instructions on how to do this by September 30.
“We can’t give a full refund as we have incurred costs such as t-shirts, postage, chips, bibs and other fees which can’t be recovered.
“We hope all our runners understand the decisions we have made.
“Both the race committee, as a group of volunteers, and the Garioch Sports Centre, as a local charity, are grateful for their continued support, as well as that of our patrons.”