Home   Sport   Article

Special marathon returns to Loch Ness

By Will Clark

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Mohammad Abu-Rezeq with(left) Kyle Greig 2nd and Patryk Gierjatowicz 3rd.
Mohammad Abu-Rezeq with(left) Kyle Greig 2nd and Patryk Gierjatowicz 3rd.

THE Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running is an event which has turned into something special according to Malcolm Sutherland.

During his 17 years as its race director, he has seen the number of participants taking part grow from hundreds into thousands.

Barely 800 participants during its first year in 2002, over 4000 people are set to take part in the biggest running event of its kind in the Highlands on Sunday.

Sutherland says when the event was first held there was always the hope it was something that could run and run.

But he never imagined the stampeding success it would become with runners from across the world travelling to Inverness every September to take part.

“We always thought that it had great potential,” he said.

“But nobody predicted how it would capture the imagination and enthusiasm of the running world in Scotland as well as the UK and internationally.

“It has exceeded all our wildest dreams and for the marathon to have grown from over 800 in the first year to over 4000 this year has just been incredible.

“It has that special something that quantifies. Everything about it is special, the route is stunning and the method of marathon runners being transported to the starting line arriving on the high ground makes the whole experience incredible.”

The Festival of Running also offers people the opportunity to challenge themselves over less than the 26.2 mile run.

Sutherland says additional races such as the River Ness 10k and the River Ness 5k have been vital in making the event what it has become today offering opportunities to runners whatever distance they want to challenge themselves.

“The first event was in 2002 and that time it was just the marathon itself,” he said.

“The 5k run was introduced in the second year of the event and then the 10k was introduced in the third year.

“That has been the mainstay of the festival as it provides different levels of challenge.”

The course has remained largely unchanged during its 17 years with only the finishing line switching from Queen’s Park Stadium to Bught Park.

The course starts on high ground between Fort Augustus and Foyers with runners passing along the shores of Loch Ness before running towards Inverness.

The appeal of the marathon has spread across the globe, as now over half of the participants come from outside Scotland.

Sutherland said as well as being a major running event, it is also helping market the area to the world.

He said: “53 per cent of participants come from outside Scotland to run the marathon and the tourism impact on the area is massive.

“For a mass participation event it shows off the Highlands as a perfect stage for fantastic events and has captured the imagination in the running world. It is clear from feedback it is a leader of its kind within the events world.

“To showcase the Highlands off is fantastic and that is seen by the amount of foreign runners from North America, Europe, Asia and a whole host of other countries who take part and that number of people continues to increase.

“One of the strongest pieces of feedback we receive is how friendly our marshals are at water stations, registration and different areas at the event.

"We always make sure every runner is given a fantastic Highland welcome.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More