The normally tranquil shores of Scotland’s most iconic landmark reverberated to the thud of footsteps today (Sunday, September 28 2014) as thousands of runners took part in the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.
Hundreds of people lined the final stages of the course in Inverness city centre to welcome weary participants – ranging from a one-year-old in the Wee Nessie fun run to an 82-year-old taking part in his first marathon – across the finish line.
Over 8,500 people registered to take part in the race programme, which also included the River Ness 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge and River Ness 5K, with a large number travelling from outwith the Highlands.
Some 43% of participants registered to take part in the marathon alone were from outwith Scotland. Race director Malcolm Sutherland says the event has become a firm favourite with runners from overseas and the rest of the UK.
He adds, “Loch Ness is a world-class backdrop for mass participation sporting events. There is something incredibly special about being able to run in this stunning landscape and the sight of runners making their way along the loch side in their hundreds is inspiring.
“We have participants from Australia, South Africa, Europe, North America and South America – the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running has grown into an event with international appeal with 56 different nationalities represented.
“To have approaching half of all marathon participants travel here from outwith Scotland is tremendous, and is an achievement we are delighted to have made in the Year of Homecoming.
“We are very proud of the benefit to good causes. Hundreds of thousands of pounds will be raised for charity this weekend, with our lead charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support expecting to generate £110,000 thanks to the efforts of 350 runners – the biggest ever Team Macmillan contingent.”
The marathon was won by Tomas Abyu from Salford in a time of 2.22.41, with first female Jen Emsley from Stirling finishing in 2.46.10.
First Highlander home in the marathon was Terence Forrest from Cromdale in 2.33.22 and was presented with the HSPC Gerald Cooper Memorial Trophy, along with a £1,000 donation to a charity of their choice.
The winner of the River Ness 10K was Andy Douglas of North Highland Harriers in 30.10 and the female title in that event went to Jenny Bannerman of Inverness Harriers who crossed the line in 35.52. The 10K Corporate Challenge title went to 3 SCOTS regiment in an overall combined time of 2.31.08.
To celebrate the Year of Homecoming, organisers introduced a Clan Challenge in which all runners were asked to pledge allegiance to a clan surname.
The clan with the biggest representation on the day, and winner of the challenge, was the Macdonald clan with over 90 registered participants. A total of 2,100 runners answered the call to represent their clan.
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland adds, “Once again the Loch Ness Marathon has proven to be a spectacle, which truly showcases Scotland as the perfect stage for events.
“The event had even more of an international feel this year, with almost half of the marathon participants coming from outwith Scotland, which is a fantastic achievement in this year of Homecoming.
“With thousands of participants and spectators visiting the Highlands we can expect to see a significant economic impact for the area, coupled with the wonderful efforts for charity.”
Heather Metcalfe, chief financial officer of title sponsor Baxters, says, “Many congratulations to everyone who ran in the marathon and the other races today.
“I’m always so inspired by the dedication from all the participants, who are running at all levels and ages, and impressed at the amount of money they raise for so many good causes.
“Baxters Food Group is proud to be title sponsor of the Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running for the 13th year running.”
Entry for the 2015 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running open on Monday 29 September, 2014. Visit www.lochnessmarathon.com for further information.