Inverness half marathon is stepping up a level this year, and is encouraging runners of all abilities to do the same. With a new sponsor, new corporate team challenge, new nominated charity and endorsement from top Scots comedian and presenter, Fred MacAulay, all promising to revitalise the event in its 27th year, organisers are calling for a new generation of runners to join in and take up the challenge.
The 2012 Inverness half marathon will be sponsored by Global Energy Group and will take place on Sunday, March 11. As the first event in its class in the Scottish running calendar, it will offer serious athletes and enthusiastic amateurs that extra motivation needed to keep up their training over the winter season. The event takes place in Inverness with runners competing along the banks of the picturesque River Ness and in the shadow of the city's imposing castle. Participants can choose a race option suited to their own style - from the 13 miles of the half marathon course to the popular 5K Fun Run or the inaugural 5K Team Attack event. Entry is now open and early bird entry fees are available until November 30.
Race Director Malcolm Sutherland of Caledonian Concepts explained that they hoped the extended programme would amplify the appeal to existing runners and encourage new entrants. He added that the new sponsorship deal represented a real opportunity for the event to advance and said: "We are excited to be welcoming Global Energy Group as the title sponsor. We believe there is a great synergy between their company and the event, and we are confident that we will be able to work well together to develop even more exciting race programmes in the coming years.
"This year we want to encourage more people to come along, give it a go and discover the delights of competing at a whole new level. Anyone wanting to take part in any of the races can now enter online at the Inverness half marathon website.
Malcolm's sentiments were echoed by broadcaster and funny man Fred MacAulay, who has already signed up for the event when he helped launch the programme this week. Speaking before the launch, Fred explained that recent charity challenges had given him a taste for pushing his own personal limits and encouraged others to do the same.
He said: "In the last couple of years I have kayaked the Caledonian Canal and climbed Kilimanjaro, so this time I have decided to stay at ground level and keep my feet on terra firma by taking part in the Global Energy Inverness half marathon 2012. I've always kept fit, but in the last few years I have started to do things that take me out of my comfort zone. So from my own experience I can tell anyone considering taking part that they will find it immensely satisfying to achieve their goal and help and motivate others around them. This is a great opportunity to get involved and help to raise money for The ARCHIE Foundation, I'm looking forward to it."
Runners have the choice of setting a challenge for themselves or competing against friends and colleagues for personal satisfaction and prizes - male and female half marathon winners will walk away with £1000 each. Incentives for other categories and races will be announced in the run up to the event and there is also the opportunity to raise funds for charity along the way.
Last year's event saw competitors raise a total of more than £43,000 for a range of good causes, and this year's Global Energy Inverness half marathon will be promoting The ARCHIE Foundation as its official charity with participants who choose to fundraise for this cause helping to improve the lives of sick children and their families across the North of Scotland. More details of the ARCHIE Foundation at the charity website.
The ARCHIE Foundation fundraising manager Allana Mackay said: "It is absolutely amazing that we are being supported by the Global Energy Inverness half marathon in 2012 - and we are delighted to have been chosen. Fundraising for The ARCHIE Foundation as part of this event will provide a real boost to our £1m appeal that will be used to redevelop the children's ward at Raigmore Hospital into a world class centre for sick children as well as other projects that will benefit children and families across the north of Scotland."
Global Energy Group Communications Director, Alastair Kennedy, commented: "We are delighted to be the main sponsor of this prestigious event in the local running calendar. We would encourage as many people as possible to come along and enjoy this event and get involved in helping good causes, particularly such a fantastic cause as The ARCHIE Foundation.
The new Team Attack race will bring an additional competitive aspect to the event, with prizes also up for grabs for the winning team. Businesses are encouraged to field four-person teams to train and challenge for the fastest cumulative time over the 5K course.