Kilted runners urged to hang free for extreme race

The Spartan Race involves jumping over flames. Picture: Richard Burley
The Spartan Race involves jumping over flames. Picture: Richard Burley
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THOUSANDS of kilt-clad fitness fans are being encouraged to ditch their underpants and go commando on a gruelling assault course – including the Queen’s nephew.

Around 6000 people will cheer on brave participants as they scramble through barbed wire mud crawls, dive into barrels of icy water and leap over flaming pits – all while dressed as “true Scots” in kilts.

And with 70mph winds forecast for tomorrow, people watching could get more than they bargained for, fears the Queen’s nephew, Sir Francis Ogilvy, who is participating in the event while allowing it to take place on his East Lothian estate.

He said: “I will be wearing a kilt but as for being a true Scotsman – well, I don’t think that’s really advisable on a day that involves jumping over a fire pit.”

The Spartan Race is open to men and women and is described as “hell on earth”.

Already a popular event overseas, it taps into a growing market for extreme endurance races.

Former Royal Marines Commando and UK Spartans organiser Richard Lee, 31, believes his event makes rivals appear limp by comparison.

And he hopes the 3000 participants will enter into the spirit of the day and discover their “inner warrior” by donning their kilts.

He said: “Any runner who races in a kilt will receive a special discount on next year’s race. If they’re a true Scotsman, they really should go commando before braving the icy river waters, but it’s not mandatory as I’m not really sure how we would check!”

While last year’s event was held on the Dalmeny Estate in South Queensferry, this year the action moves to the 2000-acre Winton House Estate, which organisers say offers many different types of terrain including challenging hills, dense undergrowth and the River Tyne.

Estate owner Sir Francis, 44, the 14th Baronet of Inverquarity, said: “We were approached by the Spartans back in February and just thought it sounded like a lot of fun. We’re always interested in holding events on the grounds and encouraging people to really take advantage of the beautiful countryside of East Lothian.”

With wind and rain forecast, organisers are encouraging onlookers to wrap up warm.

One said: “The forecast is looking pretty horrid so we would advise the large number of people cheering people on to bear that in mind.”

Since the inaugural event in 2010 attracted 5000 competitors, the Spartan Race has flourished, with 1.5 million participants in 2013. More people have now taken part in a Spartan Race than have completed the London Marathon.