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Active Outdoors – 2020 events in the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Grampian

By John Davidson

We've rounded up some of the best events taking place across the north of Scotland throughout 2020, so whatever level of challenge you're looking for, take a look through our events listing.

Please note – due to the Coronavirus pandemic, some events may be postponed or cancelled. We will endeavour to update this list on a regular basis but please check with organisers for the latest updates.


January 5 | Loch Morlich Running Festival

The Loch Morlich Running Festival gives you a chance to kick off your new year as you mean to go on, with a 5k and 10k run around the loch in Glenmore, near Aviemore. Walk, jog or run - it’s up to you!


January 18-19 | Strathpuffer

A brutal 24-hour mountain bike endurance event held at Contin and Strathpeffer in the depths of winter, with 17 hours of darkness, alongside some ice, wind, hail, mud and snow usually thrown in for good measure.



February 16 | Kinloss to Lossie Half Marathon

A Moray Road Runners event where runners are transported from Lossiemouth to the start at Kinloss by bus, then run back. Online entry only.



March 8 | Inverness Half Marathon

The Highland capital’s popular half marathon and 5k events finish in the Queen’s Park athletics stadium.


March 14 | The Wee Triathlon, Fort William

The Wee Triathlon is a pool-based triathlon involving a 400m swim, 10-mile mountain bike ride in Glen Nevis and a three-mile cross country run – perfect for beginners!


March 21 | Craig Dunain Hill Race

Starting at Queen’s Park in Inverness at 2pm, climb 270m up to the masts on Craig Dunain and back on a 9km course.


March 28 | Cioch Mor Hill Race

Up and down from Dingwall.


March 29 | Moray Road Runners 10k

Starting from Miltonduff, near Elgin. Part of the Northern Scot 10k Series.

https://morayroadrunners.com / www.entrycentral.com/Elgin10km

March 29 | Run Garioch

A 5k, 10k, half marathon and junior run from the event base at Inverurie in Aberdeenshire.



April 5 | Glenlivet 10k

This scenic 10k is dubbed “the most beautiful run in Scotland” and is held to support Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.


April 25 | Highland Fling

A 53-mile ultra marathon along the West Highland Way through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, from Milngavie to Tyndrum.


April 25 | MacAvalanche

The Scottish mountain bike enduro with a crazy mass-start stage down a snow slope. MacAvalanche is a three-stage enduro race that takes place at Glencoe Mountain Resort. Three stages of blind racing, the first two stages determine start positions for the third and final stage which runs from high on the mountain-side back to the resort base.



May 2 | Glen Affric Duathlon

A run/bike/run event suitable for all levels – and a great warm-up for the Highland Cross!


May 2 | Bealach Beag

A 43-mile circuit of the Applecross peninsula, taking in the famous Bealach na Ba climb which rises from sea level to 2053ft (626m) in just six miles.


May 2 | Formartine and Buchan Way Ultra Marathon

This new event will see runners complete as many lengths of the 4.3-mile section between Maud station and Auchnagatt village hall as they can in the space of 12 hours.


May 9 | Strathconon Cycle Ride

This family-friendly cycle event starts at Marybank Fairburn Memorial Hall. Various options from a short family ride to an out-and-back ride to the head of the strath.

For more details, search Facebook for: Strathconon Cycle

May 9 | Kintyre Way Ultra

A new 32-mile route from Tayinloan to Tarbert on the Kintyre Way, going coast-to-coast on the Kintyre peninsula.


May 10-16 | Cape Wrath Challenge

A week-long festival of running in Durness, the most north-westerly community on mainland Britain, including the remote and demanding Cape Wrath Marathon. This will be the penultimate event after the organisers announced the popular week-long running festival will be wound up after the 2021 event.


May 16 | Aviemore 100

Endurance road biking and off-road mountain biking over a 100km course through the Cairngorms National Park – open to individuals or teams of two.


* May 16 | Fyrish Three Monuments Hill Race (to be confirmed)

Mixture of forest roads and steep hillside from Evanton to reach the Fyrish Monument, descending by the same route back to the football pitch. The distance is 13km with 620m ascent.


May 16-22 | Ballater Walking Festival

Explore the natural beauty of the Cairngorms surrounding Ballater with a series of guided walks.


May 23 | Stornoway Half Marathon, 10k and fun run

The 36th edition of the popular Isle of Lewis half marathon, which takes place on a mix of road and trail – followed by the infamous post-race ceilidh! The first of the Heb 3 series of Hebridean half marathons.


May 23 | Cairngorm to Coast

Hike 30km through the Cairngorms before a 70km cycle over the Dava Way and via the National Cycle Network to Lossiemouth on the Moray coast.


May 23 | 10 Under the Ben

Taking place on the trails below Ben Nevis in Leanachan Forest, 10 Under the Ben is No Fuss Events’ flagship race. There will be a shake-up of the course for the event’s 15th anniversary, but it will stick to the classic mountain bike endurance marathon format of a 10-mile lap and a 10-hour time limit for solos, pairs, trios or quads.


May 23 or 30 (TBC) | Laggan 10k

A 10k and one-mile fun run event.


May 23-24 | Cycling in the Straths

A weekend of cycling, Mackay Country hospitality and local entertainment in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the country. There are two choices of rides, a 68-mile Strathnaver Challenge and a 48-mile Ben Hope Trial, with a gentler all-ages cycle around the Kyle of Tongue on the Sunday morning.


The Cape Wrath Ultra will now take place every year. Picture: Steve Ashworth
The Cape Wrath Ultra will now take place every year. Picture: Steve Ashworth

May 24-31 | Cape Wrath Ultra

Ultras don’t get much more ultra than this - 400km over eight days through the Highlands, from Fort William to Cape Wrath at the most north-westerly tip of the Great British mainland. Organisers have announced that the event will now take place every year instead of every two years, with entries opening one year in advance.


Active Outdoors editor John Davidson tries out part of the Loch Ness 360 route between Drumnadrochit and Abriachan.
Active Outdoors editor John Davidson tries out part of the Loch Ness 360 route between Drumnadrochit and Abriachan.

May 29-31 | Loch Ness 360 Challenge

A brand new weekend of events around the world famous loch, following the recently completed Loch Ness 360 which incorporates the Great Glen Way and South Loch Ness Trail. Take on the ultra marathon, mountain/gravel bike event or three marathons in three days to complete the 129km circuit with more than 3000m of ascent. You can choose to do one, two or all three of the marathons, subject to availability.


  • The Castle of Mey 10k, which usually takes place at the end of May, is taking a year out in 2020 but North Highland Harriers plan to bring the race back in 2021. www.northhighlandharriers.co.uk/mey-10k


June 6 | Cairngorms Ultra Trail

A new 62km ultra trail run through wild and remote country in the Cairngorms. Starting and finishing at Mar Lodge near Braemar, runners will go deep into the heart of the mountains, crossing wild rivers and negotiating tough terrain in a circuit of the Ben Avon plateau.


June 6 | Isle of Benbecula Half Marathon

Part of the Heb 3 series of Hebridean half marathons.


June 12-21 | Moray Walking Festival

Scotland’s Midsummer Walking Festival will have walks, events and activities for all ages and abilities. From the foothills of the Cairngorms to Moray’s award-winning coastline, you can enjoy long summer days exploring coastal, hill, forest, river and town walks.


June 13 | Celtman

The extreme Scottish triathlon sees competitors swim 3.4k in Loch Torridon before a 200k bike ride through Wester Ross and a marathon over the two Munros that make up Beinn Eighe.


June 13 | Isle of Skye Half Marathon

Scenic half marathon on the Isle of Skye, part of the Heb 3 series of Hebridean half marathons.


June 13 | Lochalsh Dirty 30 Challenge

A 30-mile walk or run from Glenelg, passing the Skye Ferry, the Skye Bridge and Eilean Donan castle before climbing over the hills and past ancient brochs before returning to the finish in Glenelg. There’s also a shorter Dirty Dozen route over 12 miles.


June 20 | Highland Cross

The 50-mile coast-to-coast duathlon returns for its 38th year. The ‘Midsummer Madathon’ has raised more than £5.3 million for Highland charities since its inception in 1983.


June 20 | West Highland Way Race

The 95-mile ultra race follows the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William, including 4500m (14,760ft) of ascent. Experienced runners have a 35-hour time limit to complete the event, which is a five-point qualifying race for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc series.


June 21 | Portsoy 10k

The Follow the Herring 10k Road Run and 2k Wee Sporran Fun Run are part of the annual Portsoy Boat Festival and both start at the playing fields and finish at the Shore Inn.


** June 27 | Barrathon

Part of the Heb 3 series of Hebridean half marathons.


June 28 | Lairig Ghru Race

The Lairig Ghru is a category C Long Hill Race run over 43km between the police stations of Braemar and Aviemore. This classic race takes place in a spectacular setting and follows the historic drove road rising to 2733ft between some of the highest peaks in Britain. A significant proportion of the race fees are donated to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team. Entries open Wednesday, March 18 at 7pm and are expected to sell out very quickly.



July 4 | Isle of Harris Half Marathon

The finale to the Heb 3 series of Hebridean half marathons, with a route that meanders and undulates past the spectacular sandy beaches on the west side of the island before climbing across a stretch of rugged, loch-strewn moorland and finally descending towards the finish in the ferry port of Tarbert.


July 18-19 | Fort William Trail Running Festival

A weekend of off-road running fun based from Nevis Range and Leanachan Forest, from a 5k Parkrun up to the ‘Meet the Minister Trail Marathon’, as well as talks and workshops throughout the weekend.



August 15 | Great Wilderness Challenge

The Great Wilderness Challenge has raised more than £4 million since it began in 1986. The 2020 event involves the usual choice of walking or running routes across 25, 13 or 7 miles around Dundonnell, Poolewe and Aultbea through the wilds of Wester Ross, with the additional option of a 10k fun run or limited mobility routes.


The Starman Night Tri involves a night-time run up Cairn Gorm.
The Starman Night Tri involves a night-time run up Cairn Gorm.

August 15-16 | Starman Night Triathlon

Starting at midnight, this event includes a 1.2-mile swim in Loch Morlich, a 56-mile cycle around Speyside and a 13.1-mile run taking in Cairn Gorm and Meall a’ Bhuachaille.


August 22 | Speyside Way Race

A self-supported 37-mile ultra marathon from Cragganmore Distillery in Ballindalloch and finishing in Buckie on the Moray coast, at the end of the Speyside Way.


August 28-29 | Ride the North

A two-day cycle challenge covering around 170 miles through beautiful scenery in the Grampian Highlands.


August 29 | Loch Ness Beast Race

Beast yourself on a leg-numbing 10k along the banks of Loch Ness, through dense forest, undergrowth, heather and bog, on rough dirt tracks and into the loch itself... then add the obstacles!



September 4-6 | Glenmore 24 Trail Race

Taking place in Glenmore Forest outside Aviemore, runners must see how many laps of the four-mile trail they can complete in 24 hours. There’s also a 12-hour race option available.


September 5 | Ben Nevis Race

Up and down Britain’s highest mountain. Entries open Sunday, March 1 at noon.


September 5 | Bealach Mor

A 90-mile cycle sportive taking in the famous Bealach na Ba climb which rises from sea level to 2053ft (626m) in just six miles as well as the spectacular Glen Torridon and Glen Carron.


September 6 | Glencoe Marathon

Dubbed Scotland’s toughest marathon, this epic 26.2-mile trail run is taking on a new twist for 2020, as organisers Wild Fox Events have reversed the course. Runners will now start in Glen Nevis and follow the West Highland Way to Kinlochleven and over the Devil’s Staircase before descending through Glen Coe to finish near the village, amassing a total of 1369 metres in ascent along the way. A half marathon follows the second half of the course.


September 11-14 | The Heb – Race on the Edge

An adventurous journey through a spectacular, wild and remote landscape involving running, mountain biking, kayaking and navigating over two days, covering a total distance of 200km. Enter as a solo or in pairs.


September 12-13 | Rat Race Coast to Coast

A 105-mile adventure race where participants run, bike and kayak past historic Cawdor Castle, the legendary Loch Ness and the mountainous Glen Nevis and Glen Coe. Take two days to complete the course or battle it out in a single day.


The Etape Loch Ness sees cyclists ride round the loch on closed roads.
The Etape Loch Ness sees cyclists ride round the loch on closed roads.

September 13 | Etape Loch Ness

The 66-mile closed-road cycle sportive returns to the shores of Loch Ness.


September 19-20 | Skyline Scotland

Skyline running is hill running taken to the extreme – across mountainous terrain, narrow ridges and scrambles. Choose from the Salomon Mamores VK (Virtual Kilometre race – from sea level up to Munro summit), Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra (52km, 4000m ascent), Salomon Ring of Steall Race (29km, 2500m ascent) and Salomon Glen Coe Skyline (52km, 4750m ascent, vetted entry – route includes scrambling and rock climbing on exposed ridges). There are also three trail races, with a 5k, 10k and 18k heading out of Kinlochleven too.


September 20 | Aviemore Triathlon

Swim, mountain bike and trail run with a choice of two distances designed to suit everyone from newcomers to racing snakes! There’s also a non-competitive option.


The Beast Race is a 10k with a difference!
The Beast Race is a 10k with a difference!

September 26 | Banchory Beast Race

It all starts on the banks of Knockburn Loch, within the picturesque landscape near Banchory in the heart of Aberdeenshire. But don’t be fooled by the pretty heather and Scots pine setting, this Beast has a sting in its tail!



October 3-4 | Craggy Island Triathlon

Back by popular demand, the Craggy Island Triathlon sees participants swim from the mainland to the Isle of Kerrera (near Oban) before an off-road run and cycle round the island. The event raises money for the Oban mountain rescue team.


The Loch Ness Marathon follows the shore from Whitebridge to the centre of Inverness.
The Loch Ness Marathon follows the shore from Whitebridge to the centre of Inverness.

October 4 | Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running

Scenic marathon along the shore of Loch Ness, with a 10k, 5k and Wee Nessie races also on offer.


October 10 | Bennachie Hill Ultra Marathon

This 31-mile ultra will see athletes battle it out on a course that starts and finishes at the Bennachie Visitor Centre, looping around trails in the area before climbing the main peaks.


The Dramathon takes place in the heart of whisky country. Picture: Daniel Forsyth/SPP
The Dramathon takes place in the heart of whisky country. Picture: Daniel Forsyth/SPP

October 17 | Dramathon

A marathon along the Speyside Way from Glenfarclas Distillery to Glenfiddich Distillery, taking in – you guessed it – even more distilleries along the route. Pick up a set of miniature whiskies at the end of the race.


October 18 | Aviemore Half Marathon and 10k For All

A beautiful half-marathon route taking in the trails around Loch Morlich with views of the Cairngorms before a long downhill to the finish line in Aviemore. The 10k route takes a more direct route into the village, while a fun run on the Saturday is a great warm-up and a chance for the kids to earn a medal of their own.


October 24 | Meall a’ Bhuchaille hill race

A 13km hill race with 720m of climbing over Meall a’ Bhuachaille and along the length of the ridge before a wet and muddy descent back to the forest at Badaguish.


October 25 | The Culloden Run

A challenging 17.46km run (see what they did there?) from the battlefield taking in the Clava Cairns, River Nairn and the viaduct, or a flatter 10km option.



November 1 | Monumental Challenge, Fochabers

Starting and finishing at the foot of the Monster Trails, this challenging five-mile hill race passes the monument to the Duchess of Gordon, at the top of the picturesque Whiteash Hill.


** November 7 | Knockfarrel Hill Race (provisional date)

An 8km, 365m hill race from Strathpeffer to Knockfarrel and back.



  • For local, regional and national orienteering events, see www.scottish-orienteering.org
  • All details believed to be correct at time of publishing. Please check ahead to confirm details.
  • Please send details of any events to be considered for this listing to activeoutdoors@hnmedia.co.uk along with a high-resolution photograph if possible. Events will be added at the editor’s discretion.

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