The 18th annual Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running will be taking place this weekend.
On 5 and 6 October, the event will this year welcome a record number of entries with over 9,400 runners descending to Inverness.
The marathon starts between Fort Augustus and Whitebridge before following a spectacular route along the south-side of Loch Ness into Inverness. Runners will also take to the streets of the Highland capital during the Baxters River Ness 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge and River Ness 5K; there is also the popular Wee Nessie kids’ race for under 5s.
The marathon, famously known as being one of the most scenic and beautiful in the world has attracted an 18-year record of 5,200 entries. With 60% of these marathon runners coming from outside of Scotland, and 18% of these from overseas, the route continues to build on a fantastic worldwide reputation as a bucket list race.
Over 45 countries will be represented on the marathon start line with the top five being USA, Norway, France, Germany and Finland. Following a Norwegian programme called ‘Dag Otto’s Bucket List’ filmed at last year’s event being aired, the race has seen a vast increase in Scandinavian runners signing up.
The Festival of Running is once again hosted by Scottish television and radio presenter Bryan Burnett and will this year be accompanied Virgin Radio host and running author Vassos Alexander. The two-day festival weekend promising a packed family friendly agenda will kick off on Saturday at the Runners Café, at Scotland’s largest running Expo. Open from 10am to 6pm in Bught Park, Inverness, it’s free for everyone and will also include talks
from expert running coach Tom Craggs.
Race day at the event village on Sundaywill see runners and spectators enjoying the street food zone and Baxters Kitchen, showcasing Highland food and drink producers, children’s activities, pipe band and live music.
As well as overseas runners, the 5k and Wee Nessie have proven popular with locals. Over a third of the 5k entries are from local primary schools, youth and sports groups, highlighting the support for regional young runners. There will be a limited number of entries to the Wee Nessie kids race for over 5s over the race weekend, subject to capacity.
As a perfect day out for all the family, the event is proud to host an age range of three months to 82 years old taking part this year. Canadian Roger Macmillan, 82 years old, will be the oldest runner to take part in the marathon with this race representing the ninth time he’s run the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon.
Runners will again be dedicated to helping raise thousands of pounds for charity. Official charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support hope to receive in excess of £75,000 to help people living with cancer and their families.
This year, legendary marathon runner Fiona Rennie of the Carnegie Harriers will be doing the marathon for her 18th time – having never missed a year! She is one of three runners to complete every Loch Ness Marathon marathon, she shared her thoughts on the festival, and said: ‘It’s a fantastic event. It has the feel of a big city marathon but retains the friendliness of a smaller event. Even though the numbers taking part have grown so much it hasn’t lost its character and never seems too busy or congested.’
Race director Malcolm Sutherland said: ‘We’re delighted to be hosting the 18th Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. Seeing the event grow year on year with runners of all abilities and age groups has been extremely inspiring. Last year the event raised almost £900,000 for charities so we’re hoping to raise even more in 2019.’
Audrey Baxter, executive chairman and Group CEO at Baxters, said: ‘We are so proud to be the title sponsor of the Loch Ness Marathon for the 18th year running. The event continues to reflect the company’s commitment to supporting the local community and providing food full of goodness to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.
‘We are delighted to have been part of the event from the beginning, working with and supporting the team to help make the Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running the world-class event it is today. Good luck to all the runners taking part!’
The increase of tourists to the area has delighted supporting partners. Paul Bush OBE, director of events at VisitScotland has said: ‘Events play a key role in our visitor economy and EventScotland is proud to have supported Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running since 2005. In that time, it has grown to become of Scotland’s leading mass participation events, drawing a significant number of runners both locally, and from across the globe.
‘Good luck to all the runners taking part as they tackle the various distances that take in the spectacular landscape of Scottish Highlands.’
For more information about the 2019 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running, including temporary traffic restrictions, visit: www.lochnessmarathon.com.