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Race around Loch Ness aiming high as Ultra X Scotland set to return to Inverness

By John Davidson

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A race around Loch Ness is aiming to become "the biggest ultra-marathon in Scotland" according to its organisers.

Ultra X Scotland is in its third year and the team behind the running spectacle want to see more local runners taking part and getting involved.

Race director Alex Fetherston-Godley said they had been reaching out to running clubs and local communities and had offered free entries to charities including mental health support group Mikeysline.

The start of Ultra X Scotland takes place at Queen's Park in Inverness.
The start of Ultra X Scotland takes place at Queen's Park in Inverness.

He said: "Our priority for Ultra-X Scotland this year is to make it the biggest ultra-marathon in Scotland. That means even more engagement with local runners and local communities, so we've been reaching out to all the community councils and running clubs, as well as High Life Highland and Mikeysline.

"We're going up for a recce in March to engage with local stakeholders, speaking to landowners and making sure they are happy with what we're doing. Without their support and help it would make the race very difficult to deliver.

"We made a contribution to the South Loch Ness Trail based on competitors involved in last year's race and this year we're looking to do exactly the same thing, and we've engaged with lots of local vendors for the finish of the race in and around Dores.

"We want to turn it into a festival atmosphere at the finish line and, while we're mindful it's a bit harder to support ultra-marathon events, it's something we're trying to focus on especially in the built-up areas around the loch such as Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus."

Ultra X Scotland takes place over the weekend of May 6-7. Completing a circuit of Loch Ness, the full 110km race is done over two days and includes 3768 metres of ascent, while the 50km event starts from Fort Augustus on the Sunday and covers 1381 metres climbing.

The company also operates ultra-marathon events in England, Wales, Jordan, Azores and Tanzania.

Alex Fetherston-Godley, race director with Ultra X Scotland.
Alex Fetherston-Godley, race director with Ultra X Scotland.

Alex said: "We want to have a presence in all of the UK and we have our flagship race in each country in Britain. Our founder Sam is from Scotland originally and we all know Inverness-shire and the Loch Ness area well.

"It's a really idyllic location to hold a race, and part of what we want to achieve with our races is life-changing experiences where people push themselves mentally and physically but also seeing somewhere beautiful and stunning, and having the chance to absorb what's around them, because I think it's one of the great pros of doing these things is you get to explore and travel and see wonderful parts of the world.

"Scotland is right on a lot of our doorsteps in terms of travel time so we want to encourage people to really appreciate the beauty of Scotland, and the route circumnavigating Loch Ness is kind of a no-brainer in terms of finding that picturesque location. It represents what we are and what we want our races to be. We really just want to have a positive impact on people through running and testing themselves doing these unique challenges."

The longer race begins at Queen's Park stadium in Inverness and the course follows the Great Glen Way, South Loch Ness Trail and Trail of the Seven Lochs and includes an overnight camp in Fort Augustus. Runners in the 50km event join the race there, with both runs finishing at Dores.

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