A RECORD 1600 runners and walkers are preparing to brave the darkness at the Illuminator event at Glen Tanar this weekend.

With a gruelling 2000ft ascent over 15 dark miles through ancient Caledonian forest and steep heather moorland, this event is billed as Scotland’s toughest night trail race.

This unusual event surprises and inspires participants at the halfway point with spectacular lighting effects that cast a colourful spell on an old Victorian stone bridge and gnarly old Scots pine trees in the heart of Glen Tanar Estate on Royal Deeside.

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Since its first year in 2015 it has more than doubled in size and is attracting people from across the country.

HeraldScotland:

First time competitor Abby Davidson is traveling up from Edinburgh with six friends said: "The event looks really challenging and there is nothing else like it in Scotland. We are spending the weekend up in Deeside for my birthday and plan to have an absolute blast."

Last year’s male winner Sam Milton from Aberdeen clocked an impressive 1hr 40mins 19sec and is returning to defend his title: "The Illuminator was different to anything I’d ever done previously and I look forward to another crack at it."

The organisers Firetrail Events have teamed up with the Braemar Mountain Rescue Association (BMRA) for this out-of-the-ordinary race.

BMRA will provide additional safety support to participants in partnership with the professional event first aid team.

As the Illuminator’s charity partner, the Mountain Rescue Team hopes to raise funds for their crucial emergency service, where volunteers put their lives on the line during rescue missions in the most inaccessible places of the Scottish wilderness.

Organiser Richard Lawes of Firetrail Events said: "We love hosting the Illuminator in our hometown Aboyne. We welcome anything from walkers who want to try a real challenge through to pro hill runners looking to take a podium place."

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