To sign up for the Great Stirling 5K or The Thistles Great Family Run visit greatrun.org/stirling

SCOTLAND rugby union star Finn Russell returned to his old school today to help launch two new running events taking place in the heart of Scotland.

The 24-year-old fly-half, who played a starring role in Scotland's Six Nations victory over Wales on Saturday, was back on his old stomping ground at Bridge of Allan Primary School today to encourage children to take part in the brand-new The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run and to publicise the Great Stirling 5K, two events which will form part of a weekend of running in central Scotland alongside the inaugural Stirling Scottish Marathon.

With around 6,500 runners expected to take part in Stirling's first ever 26.2mile event, it is anticipated that 1,000 more will take on the shorter distances with The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run aimed at children and their parents on Saturday, May 20, as well as the 5k which will see runners take on a city centre loop on a closed course on Sunday, May 21.

Finn said: “I'm delighted to return to my old primary school to help launch the Great Stirling 5k and The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run.

“It's really important that kids are active from a young age, and this kind of event will help promote a healthy lifestyle.

“It is also pleasing to see Stirling host such a large event, with thousands of people taking part across the weekend it will really put the city on the map."

The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run is launched in partnership with The Thistles shopping centre in the centre of Stirling. Runners in the 5k and the marathon will take a route past the centre during their run.

Phil Byrne, Centre Director, The Thistles, said: “The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run is a fantastic opportunity for children to feel involved and enjoy the spirit of these newly-announced running events in and around Stirling, surrounded by the city's iconic history.

“The centre is at the heart of the community and we would encourage parents to get involved in The Thistles Stirling Family Run on May 20 as it is sure to be a hugely popular day out and a fun, sociable way for families to enjoy exercise together.”

The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run takes place in the grounds of the University of Stirling, which will also form part of the marathon course the following day.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “The University of Stirling are delighted to be involved in the inaugural Scottish Stirling Marathon and we look forward to cheering the marathon runners through our stunning campus on Sunday 21 May. 

“Before that however, the opportunity for families and 5k runners to get involved on Saturday 20 May will be a fitting start to a fantastic weekend of activity in the city and I would encourage everyone to join in.”

The weekend of events, organised by The Great Run Company, is fully supported by Stirling Council.

Stirling Council's Community Planning and Regeneration Convenor said: “It's great that international athletes like Finn are getting behind this fantastic weekend of running, and inspiring future generations to take part in healthy activity. I'm sure the children at Bridge of Allan enjoyed meeting Finn. 

“The Stirling Scottish Marathon, The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run and the Great Stirling 5k are excellent additions to Stirling's annual calendar of events.”

The Great Stirling 5k is suitable for runners aged 14 years old and over. The course will take runners of all abilities on a loop around the city of Stirling before finishing in City Park in front of the stunning backdrop of Stirling Castle. The start and finish areas are within walking distance of the city, with plenty of car parking options nearby.

All finishers will receive a goodie-filled finisher's pack, an exclusive event t-shirt and that all-important medal.

The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run is open to children aged 3-13 years old. For the older children (9-13 years old) a dedicated wave will be available at the start. Children in the older category will not be allowed to have an accompanying adult with them.

After the event all children will be presented with a special medal, bottle of water and a snack to celebrate their achievement.

For more information, visit greatrun.org/stirling