Race organisers expect a 35% increase in numbers for Sunday's Inverness Half Marathon, the first big run of the Scottish spring. However as the country girds itself this week against heavy rain and gusting winds, the anticipated 1,500 plus field will be hoping the weather relents and the race is run in good conditions.
The course is on good tarmac roads except at the finish where you cross grass to get to the running track. The route is well signposted and marshalled with accurate mile markers and directional arrows throughout. There are three water stations situated at 3, 6 and 9miles and at the finish. The course is predominately flat with no testing hills. Runners have priority on all roads along the route, although they should keep to the left to allow for emergency and officials vehicles.
Runners to look out for include last year's winner Ben Livesey of Forres Harriers, who also won the 2006 event, as well as Andrew Douglas (Inverclyde AC) the runner up in 2010. Gordon Lennox (Ron Hill Cambuslang), winner of last month's RAF Kinloss to Lossie half marathon, is using the event as part of his build-up to April's London marathon. Three times winner in the 90s, Alan Reid (Peterhead Running Club), is now a leading veteran competitor. Winner of the first Inverness Half Marathon, and former Commonwealth Games marathon runner, Graham Laing (Inverness Harriers) is also likely to be a leading competitor in the over-50s category.
Melissa Whyte of Inverness Harriers is the women's title holder and favourite to win again this year, following her win at the Scottish Masters (over-45 age group) cross country this winter. Others to look out for include Amanda Henderson (Portobello), winner of Forfar Multi Terrain Half Marathon in February, and Dhvala Stott (Sri Chinmoy AC) who was third at Inverness in 2010.
Graham Laing told scottishrunningguide.com: "There's been a good buzz in the town ahead of the race and we're just keeping our fingers crossed that we get some reasonable weather on Sunday. The new organisers have worked hard to make this year's event a big success and have been rewarded with a substantially increased entry. I hope we see a fast winning time as that is likely to attract top runners in future years. However I'll be surprised if we see Peter Fleming's long-time course record being threatened."
Graham urged sensible early pacing to ensure a good run for the middle of the pack entrant: "It's a nice flat start and as the adrenaline flows there's always the temptation to take off too quickly. Take it easy in the early stages and you'll have something in reserve for the second-half of the race."
Entry for the Inverness Half Marathon is now closed. Entry for the 5K Fun Run is available during registration (10am to 12.15pm) at Queens Park Stadium on Sunday. For further information visit the event website or call 0844 8751411.