Over 8,000 runners are on their marks and getting set for the 15th anniversary edition of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. Participants from all over Scotland, across the UK and around the globe will descend on Inverness this weekend, confirming its position as one of the nation’s best-loved running events.
The Highland capital will come alive with runners and spectators on Sunday for the marathon, River Ness 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and the Wee Nessie fun run for pre-school children.
Just under half of all marathon entrants will come from outwith Scotland, and a total of 41 different nationalities will be represented on the start line.
The largest international group comes from Japan: 25 members of the Full Hyaku Club – aged between 60 and 80 – will be taking part in the marathon and 10K. Besides runners from the UK, the top three most represented countries in the marathon are the USA, France and Germany.
The oldest participant is 80-year-old Audrey Macbeth from Newton Mearns, who will take part in the 10K, while a baby boy aged just five months will be participating in the Wee Nessie.
The marathon will have five very special entrants: Erica Christie, Cambuslang Harriers; Fiona Rennie, Carnegie Harriers; Kenneth Stewart, Perth Road Runners; John Cassells, Carnegie Harriers, and Lucy Mackay, Bellahouston Road Runners have taken part in all 15 editions of the 26.2 mile run.
There will be a special presentation to the Famous Five at the Event Village in Bught Park on Saturday, thanking them for their support over the years and commemorating the remarkable achievement.
Race director Malcolm Sutherland says everyone connected with the event is looking forward to what will be a very special milestone.
He adds, “When we started this incredible journey 15 years ago, we knew that Loch Ness and Inverness could offer a very special experience for runners and we are very proud of the reputation that it has garnered.
“Much of that is down to the support that we have from the local community, which is so welcoming. The event organisation, the course and the support received all helps to make this the most memorable of running events for all those who attend.
“It also means a great deal to us that the event has helped to benefit so many charities over the years. This year our official charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, will have a field of 250 runners across all events and hopes to raise £70,000 to help people living with cancer and their families.”
Audrey Baxter, Executive Chairman and Group CEO of title sponsors Baxters Food Group says, “We are proud to have been associated with the event right from the start, and to have been able to watch it grow over 15 years into the world class event that it is today, drawing hundreds of international entrants.
“It is an incredibly high quality event, and we hope that our association adds to the overall experience. We want to wish all the runners taking part this weekend the very best of luck – and we’ll see them at the finish.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, adds, “Having been supported through EventScotland’s International Programme for several years, the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon is now famous with runners worldwide as it provides one of the most stunning settings for long-distance running imaginable.
“Now in its 15th year, the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon has long demonstrated exactly what makes Scotland the perfect stage for events and we look forward to many more successful editions in the years to come.”
The finish line is based around the Event Village at the Bught Park in Inverness, where runners and spectators can enjoy the Baxters Food and Drink Fayre, a Sports Expo, live music and activities for children.