Thousands of runners will join together to take on the ultimate test of endurance at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running this weekend (Sunday, September 27). Runners from all over the world will descend on the Scottish Highlands to take part in the event on the shores of the iconic loch.
Entrants are coming from as far afield as Australia, North America and all over Europe, as well as all corners of the UK. They will line up alongside runners from the local area for the 26.2 mile race and the accompanying River Ness 10K, Corporate Challenge 10K, River Ness 5K and Wee Nessie children’s race.
The events – which will attract in the region of 8,000 entrants – are catering for all ages. Around 200 pre-school children will take part in the Wee Nessie event within the Bught Park while 81-year-old Koichi Kitabake from Japan will be the oldest participant in the marathon.
Many runners will be raising money for good causes, with a significant number running for official charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
Race director Malcolm Sutherland says the range of events on offer is part of the appeal of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. He adds, “We take great pride in the fact that we can offer something for runners of all abilities, from seasoned marathoners through to those taking part in their first 5K.
“We feel that the range of events really adds to the atmosphere of the day – it truly has a festival feel with so many different races and attractions for the many hundreds of spectators that turn out to cheer the runners on.
“Just under half of all entrants in the marathon are coming from outwith Scotland, underlining the global appeal of this event. It has become a must-do event because of the wonderful scenery, fantastic atmosphere and incredible camaraderie on the route.”
Although entry into the marathon and 10K is now closed, limited entry is available over the weekend for the River Ness 5K and the Wee Nessie.
The first finishers in the 10K are expected to arrive at the finish line at around 11.15am, with the marathon front runners about an hour later. The masses will continue to stride their way down the home straight throughout the afternoon.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running has become one of the most popular events on the UK running circuit and we look forward to welcoming thousands of competitors and spectators from all over the world again this year.
Loch Ness provides a stunning setting for the race and is always one of the biggest draws for competitors, illustrating Scotland’s growing reputation as the perfect stage for events.”
The Event Village at the Bught Park finish line will be a thriving hub of activity throughout the weekend. Locally sourced produce will be on offer at the Baxters Food & Drink Fayre, and on race day there will be live entertainment from a pipe band, and local musicians Emma & the String Bandits and Ruth Gillies.
Family-friendly activities include a bouncy castle, inflatable slide, face-painting, trampolines and a merry-go-round. The Event Village also boasts a running expo – the only one of its kind in Scotland – featuring the latest in running technology, products and trends.
Members of the public are being reminded that road closures will be in place throughout the day along the marathon route which starts at Whitebridge between Fort Augustus and Foyers. Roads around Inverness will also be closed at various times during the day to accommodate the River Ness 10K and 5K routes. Full information on the road closure programme is available at http://www.lochnessmarathon.