“A well-organised, scenic marathon with plenty of hills up and down the quiet lanes around the famous loch. If you’re really lucky – you might spot Nessy!”
Where: Inverness, Northern Scotland
Size: 9,000 runners
Official race website here.
- Be prepared for a long wait on the buses, then start line (approx 2 hrs from meeting time) so take nutrition with you and stock up
- Take a disposable jumper/ pair of trousers to keep warm at the start. It may be raining as well so wear a bin liner until you start running
- If you’re running alone take music because it’s a very quiet race. Recommended track: ‘I would walk 500 Miles…’
- There are only a few portaloos along the course so be prepared to take a wee in the trees if you need to
- Train for hills – running up and down on long gradual slopes if you can
- Don’t start your sprint finish too early. The finish stretch to Bught Park is deceptively long
Pretty standard set up with no complaints. The pre-race paperwork is all good and your register and get your race number the day before. There’s a mini Expo in tents by the river as well and a giant blow up dinosaur which is, presumably, meant to look like the Loch Ness Monster.The start line is out in the hills pretty much 26 miles away so you have to join everyone in the morning for bus transfers to the start. It is quite a drive and then a bit of a wait for all the buses to unload and it’ll probably be raining so wear disposable warm clothes and ponchos/ bin liners. Out on the course it’s minimal in terms of support. Occasional nutrition stations and 2 or three clumps of supporters until the end. Once you finish you get a great metal medal and a T-shirt -BONUS!
The course was disappointing. It’s claimed this is the most ‘picturesque marathon in the world’ and on paper it should be. The start is pretty gorgeous with the lush, rolling hills of Scotland surrounding you as far as the eye can see and the prospect of seeing Loch Ness adds to the excitement. But the majestic Loch is only actually visible for about 7 miles of the race tops, and then you’re just slogging it out on an undulating, empty road that could be anywhere in rural Britain.
A lack of spectators makes this marathon a fairly quiet one. The runners themselves are all up for some fun and you won’t want for a chat or two with runners from all over the world with some cool stories to tell. The only time there is any support is at the halfway point where spectators gather along the village roads. It’s probably the best bit of the race and you certainly feel the absence of support afterwards until the final half mile which is lined with people cheering you on.
There are only a couple of big hills – one about 5 miles in and another just after the spectators at mile 18ish. But the course is never flat running in a straight line on an undulating road with nothing to see is tough. Plus it loves to rain in northern Scotland so that definitely adds to the toughness of the race. What do you think? Vote in our poll below.
Inverness is a smallish town that’s a disappointingly long way away from Loch Ness so unless you’ve got a car or time to negotiate public transport, the run could be your only chance to visit Nessie. After the race there are the usual pubs and restaurants to choose from but nothing is laid on especially and apart from the Loch and a small museum there isn’t a lot to explore in the area.
Tourist info for Inverness here.
My Race Diary – Joe Tidy (triathlete, 2/3 races a year since 2010)
This was my second marathon after New York where I got a 4hr17. I wanted to beat my time for sure but I didn’t think a sub 4hr race was possible for me. Luckily my running partner was much more positive and he pretty much dragged me kicking and screaming over the line to break 4hrs.
I didn’t start feeling the pain until about mile 18 and then every uphill, and surprisingly, downhill section was a killer. The lack of support and a constant drizzle made the last 6 miles a serious slog as we dropped behind our miles-per-minute goals and had to push on.
The final straight was painful but brilliant to have all the support and a big clock above the finish line spurred us on to finish below 4hrs. As soon as I crossed the line I was overwhelmed with exhaustion and jelly baby belly and threw up everywhere. But who cares – I did a sub 4hr marathon and was chuffed!