Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running returns to calendar
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This Sunday, the Loch Ness Marathon returns for the first time in two years after missing 2020 because of the pandemic.
Athletes from all over the country will be making their way to the Highlands to compete, and one in particular will be hoping to make it third time lucky.
Shona McIntosh has competed in the Loch Ness Marathon twice before, in 2007 and 2014, and each time has finished on the podium.
Victory has proven to be elusive, though, so McIntosh is looking to finally reach the top step this weekend.
“It would be nice to be on the podium again seven years later,” the Musselburgh runner said.
“I feel as though my training has been going well but it’s hard to say as there hasn’t been many races.
“I did the Scottish half marathon but, as it was only two weeks before Loch Ness, I didn’t want to push it too hard, so I think I’m in better shape than my time there might indicate.
“Last time I was at Loch Ness I started far too fast on the downhills and paid for that.
“I’ll try not to make that mistake again, but it’s my first marathon for more than three years so I’m worried I’ve forgotten how hard it can be! Seriously, though, I’m looking forward to running there again.”
McIntosh will have plenty of competition for top spot in the form of Charlene Jacobs-Conradie (Luton), Sheena Logan and Megan Crawford (Fife), Helen Cross (Knavesmire) among others.
The men’s race has been hit with the top contenders pulling out due to family commitments.
Welshman Geraint Williams seems to be the new favourite.
That, though, is only after Adam Holland and Guillaume Ruel pulled out.
Holland said: “We have a nine month old baby and have had to take some time out this week to look after her.
“I was very much looking forward to the marathon, but the time it takes to get up to Inverness will be too long, in case I am needed back home. I very much hope to be back in 2022.”
Ruel added: “I am very disappointed because I am in very good shape and I was looking for a sub 2:18 time after running 2:20 at Milan in May.
“I hope to be in Inverness next year to break this barrier.”
Williams is in good form and so will fancy his chances, having set a new personal best of 2:30:57 at the Cheshire Elite Marathon in April.