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Belfast is preparing to be infested with adventure racers as the ‘Rat Race’ returns to the city in 2009.  The team-based event will see the city transformed into an urban sports playground as racers are challenged to take part in a range of physical and mental activities including running, mountain biking, abseiling, climbing and kayaking.

The Belfast event, which takes place over a weekend, on 8th and 9th August 2009, will be the sixth of an 8-date UK race summer series that will also take in Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield, Gateshead/Newcastle, London, and Edinburgh.

Saturday’s “Mean Streets” is billed as ‘the team running event with bite’.  It is designed predominantly as a running (or walking) event and is open to competitors of all abilities. Participants will have 3 hours to hunt for up to 25 checkpoints hidden all over the city centre. 

Sunday is a bike-based adventure that takes teams further out towards the city limits and encompasses more overt adventure pursuits, such as kayaking, abseiling and navigation.

In the 2008 Belfast Rat Race the activities included rafting and kayaking on the Laggan River,  a giant game of ‘Blind Man’s Buff’ at Ormeau Park, fell-running on Cave Hill, an indoor navigation activity at Victoria Square Shopping Centre, a cycle speed ‘time-trial’ at the Harland and Wolff shipyard and an abseil and climb through tall pine trees at Shawsbridge.

This year’s races will start and finish in a specially constructed adventure village in the heart of the city, at City Hall.  The event village features well-earned food and drink for competitors and spectators alike, alongside live music plus adventure exhibits and activities for the public to try their hand at.

There will also be a 150ft (50m) crane for members of the public to experience the thrill of abseiling.  The crane will be situated in the event village and will give people the chance to tower over the Belfast skyline with a photographer on hand to record their efforts for posterity.  The activity costs £25 and anyone interested can register at www.ratraceadventure.com to take part.

Jim Mee, MD of event organisers Detail Events commenting on Belfast’s suitability to hold the event said;  “Belfast has the perfect infrastructure to hold a Rat Race. As well as a number of unusual spots and iconic locations, Belfast is a very green city with plenty of parks. Of course there is plenty of water too, which is great for this sort of activity.  Our planners are already working on the course and it will be significantly different to last year so anyone who took part in last year’s race shouldn’t think that they know what to expect!”

Seamus Rooney, of Belfast City Council, commented:  “The Rat Race is a great way of showcasing everything that the city has to offer and also perhaps puts a new face on the city for people who live and work here.  The race is going to involve some really iconic spots and proves to people who live in the city that there is a natural and man made environment for adventure.”

Teams of three - male, female or mixed - can enter either or both events and each of the races usually has around 1000 competitors.  Entry is £35 per person for Saturday’s ‘Mean Streets’ challenge, £69 per person for Sunday’s ‘Nine to Five’ or £99 for the Rat Race ‘Weekender’ package of both events. There are also corporate and charity packages available. 

For more information, click here.