Royston virtual balloon race set for lift-off

Royston Rotary Club's virtual balloon race starts on Monday. Picture: Royston Rotary Club

Royston Rotary Club's virtual balloon race starts on Monday. Picture: Royston Rotary Club - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of citizens of Royston and the surrounding area will get a taste of international travel next week when the Grand Royston Virtual Balloon Race lifts off.

All the virtual balloons that people have bought  will be launched from Red Square in Moscow at exactly 12 noon on Monday and using clever state-of-the-art software, all of them will respond to the actual weather conditions operating at that time.  

The balloons will – virtually – fly for many hundreds of miles from the launch point but contestants won’t know where they’ll finish up until the end of seven days, the race duration. 

Rotarian Tony Briar, who has overseen the project on behalf of Royston Rotary Club, explains: “Everyone taking part will have had the opportunity to select their balloon’s thickness and amount of helium in it. They might all fly north over Arkhangel and into the White Sea or south over Rostov and into the Black Sea, maybe west over Lithuania towards the Baltic or possibly east over the Ural Mountains. 

“Some of them might even ‘virtually’ burst if they fly too high!”

“We believe youngsters in particular will be fascinated to follow their balloons.

“They will be able to track the leading balloons on a Google Earth simulation for the whole duration of the race, and see how theirs is performing against others.

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“The overall winner will win £500 and the runner-up an Apple iPad. 

“There are a further ten prizes of £10 book tokens.  Despite there being balloons from other good causes in the same race, the Royston balloon which goes the furthest will win an additional £50.

“We mustn’t forget that this event is to raise much needed funds for Home-Start Royston, Buntingford and South Cambridgeshire. They have done so much for local families since 1983 by working alongside parents through all kinds of difficulties, but are having difficulties themselves now as fund raising during the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed contributions to a trickle.” 

It’s not too late to still buy your balloons before lift off on Monday, so why not join in the fun at

For more on our area’s Home-Start, go to the website