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Final countdown is on to inaugural Loch Ness Challenge this weekend

By John Davidson

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Cycling on the Loch Ness 360.
Cycling on the Loch Ness 360.

Hundreds of eager athletes are set to take on a monster mission this weekend when the inaugural Loch Ness Challenge gets under way.

Scotland’s newest long-distance trail event, created by Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) and sponsored by SSE Renewables, follows the Loch Ness 360 trail and consists of the Loch Ness Marathon Challenge, Loch Ness Ultra Marathon Challenge and Loch Ness Bike Challenge.

The Marathon Challenge covers three marathons over the course of three days, totalling 129km and an ascent of more than 3000m along the Great Glen Way and South Loch Ness Trail around Loch Ness. Alternatively, participants can opt to take part in one or two of the marathons.

The Ultra Marathon Challenge covers the three marathons but with a time limit of 24 hours, while the Bike Challenge covers the distance the following day.

The event was originally planned for May 2020 but was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

A total of 450 people have signed up for the events from across Scotland, the UK and around the world, including America and New Zealand.

Among those taking part are Salomon-sponsored athlete Donnie Campbell and recent Etape Loch Ness podium finishers Andrew MacRae, Lynne Cordiner and Natalie Munro.

The events start on Friday when the first marathon leaves Dores at 9am, with the ultra marathon starting on Saturday and the bike challenge on Sunday.

Runners on the Loch Ness 360 route.
Runners on the Loch Ness 360 route.

Michael Golding, CEO of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said: “After two years of postponements due to the pandemic, we’re so excited to finally host the inaugural Loch Ness Challenge! And I’m sure it will be worth the wait, with many people experiencing the spectacular Loch Ness 360 trail for the first time.”

The event is made possible by the sponsorship of SSE Renewables and the support of a team of volunteers helping day and night over the weekend. Event partners and supporters include the Highland Club, the Posh Agency, Run4It, Cruise Loch Ness, 42 Cycling, Inverness Airport, Penta Hotels, Active Root, Dog Falls Brewing Co., High Life Highland and Scottish Athletics.

Mr Golding added: “Thank you to everyone who is supporting the event, including our amazing team of volunteers, some of whom will even be supporting overnight when our ultra-marathon runners will be out on the trail. We hope the Loch Ness Challenge will provide an economic boost for the area and the communities around Loch Ness. I’d encourage anyone in the area to get involved and cheer on our participants.”

Craig Cunningham, project manager of the Bhlaraidh Extension and Cloiche Wind Farm developments at SSE Renewables, added: “The time has almost arrived for the Loch Ness Challenge, and we’re delighted to be part of it. The route passes a number of our hydro power and onshore wind sites so it’s great to be involved and to help support the communities in which we operate.

“Many of the SSE Renewables team are volunteering to support the event this weekend while many more colleagues are taking part, including myself in the Loch Ness Marathon Challenge, so we’re all really excited for a great weekend. Good luck to everyone taking part!”

Bikers on the Great Glen Way above Inverness.
Bikers on the Great Glen Way above Inverness.

Find out more about the Loch Ness Challenge at: www.lochness360.com/lochnesschallenge

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