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Active Outdoors events list 2021 – running, walking, cycling, mountain biking and multi-sport activities across the Highlands and Islands and north-east Scotland

By John Davidson

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The Etape Loch Ness usually attracts thousands of riders to the Highlands.
The Etape Loch Ness usually attracts thousands of riders to the Highlands.

With coronavirus restrictions beginning to ease, a number of events look set to go ahead during the remainder of 2021, subject to government advice.

Here, we’ve gathered together a selection of some of the outdoors events which are intending to go ahead this year. More so than ever, it is imperative that you check with the organisers that these plans are still accurate, as there may well be late changes to some events.

There could also be events not listed here that will be confirmed at a later date.

All being well, Active Outdoors will bring you a full list of events for 2022 as life hopefully returns to some level of normality and we can all get out and enjoy taking part in more great events across the Highlands and Islands, and north-east Scotland.

To have an event considered for inclusion in either this list or the 2022 events list, email details of the event to activeoutdoors@hnmedia.co.uk along with a high-resolution photograph or photographs if possible. Events will be added at the editor’s discretion.

All details believed to be correct at time of publishing. Please check ahead to confirm details.

May 15-21 | Ballater Walking Festival

An amended programme of guided walks put on by volunteer leaders and helpers to help you explore the natural beauty of the Cairngorms surrounding Ballater.


June 5 | Cairngorms Ultra Trail

Taking ultra athletes on a 62km circular route around the Ben Avon plateau, with 1146m/3760ft of ascent, the new Cairngorms Ultra Trail starts at Mar Lodge near Braemar. UTMB qualifying race.


June 12 | Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon

Based at Torridon, the Celtman sees extreme competitors tackle a 3.4km cold-water swim before embarking on a 200km bike ride through the hills of Wester Ross, finishing it all off with a marathon that finishes over the two Munros of Beinn Eighe.


June 17-23 and September 16-22 | Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival

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 28 | Lairig Ghru Hill 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.


July 24 | Ride the North

A change of format as Ride the North will be a single-day event for 2021 based in Huntly, with three distance options from 100km to 180km.


August 1-8 | 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.


August 14-15 | 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 | Etape Loch Ness

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


August 28 | Cairngorm to Coast

Cairngorm to Coast (C2C) is a 100km hike and bike challenge that takes particpants from the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and along the Dava Way to the Moray coast.


The Beast Race involves a number of 'obstacles'.
The Beast Race involves a number of 'obstacles'.

August 28 | 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 4-5 | The Heb – Race on the Edge

The Heb – Race on the Edge is a multi-discipline, two-day adventure race for solo competitors and pairs. It will involve cycling, off-road running, kayaking and some basic navigation through the Western Isles – but the route isn’t revealed to competitors until the last minute!


September 5 | Glencoe Marathon

Dubbed Scotland’s toughest marathon, this epic 26.2-mile trail run is taking on a new twist 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 | 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 11 | Isle of Skye Half Marathon

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


September 11-12 | 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.


September 18 | Go Swim Loch Morlich

A wild swimming event for everyone from beginners to experienced dippers.


September 18-19 | 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 19 | Aviemore Triathlon

Take on the Long Hard Durty with 1000m open-water swim in Loch Morlich before an 18km technical mountain bike route and 9km trail run, or settle for the Short Fast Durty with a 500m swim, 12km mountain bike circuit and 5km trail run.


September 25 | 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 2-3 | Craggy Island Triathlon

Starting with a swim from the mainland to the island of Kerrera, the Craggy Island Triathlon is a unique challenge through rugged and unspoilt country. It involves a 550m swim, 14km mountain bike route and 8km hill run.


The Loch Ness Marathon is planning to go ahead as planned in October.
The Loch Ness Marathon is planning to go ahead as planned in October.

October 3 | 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 9 | Bennachie Ultra

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.


October 16 | The 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 17 | Aviemore Half Marathon

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.


October 23 | 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 31 | Glenlivet 10k

A scenic 10k road race in the Cairngorms National Park, with an event base at the landmark Glenlivet Distillery. Slàinte!


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