Organisers of today's Global Energy Inverness half marathon are expecting a bumper turnou with a record number of runners registered for the race. Over 3,000 competitors, the largest in the competition's 28 year history, are due to take part in the half marathon, 5k fun run and 5k Team Attack events.
Runners from 32 different countries, including as far afield as Ethiopia, USA, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands and Norway, will be competing. Amongst the eager participants will be Scottish comedian Fred MacAuley, who has chosen Inverness half marathon to be his first long distance event.
MacAuley, who has taken part in a 10k, hopes to complete the 13.1 mile race in under two hours. He has, however, discounted his chances of grabbing the sizeable prize money of £1,000: "The only way I'll be getting my hands on that prize is if I have enough energy left to mug the guy afterwards."
One athlete with a chance of securing top place is defending champion Andrew Douglas. The Scottish international, who is currently based in Edinburgh, won last year's race in a time of 1hr 7min 53sec but knows the competition is even stiffer on Sunday with the confirmed participation of Wallsend Harriers' Yared Hagos.
Douglas feels the increase in numbers in the elite field will be conducive for fast finishes: "I'm hoping to be faster than last year, but it all depends on what happens on the day. It's great that there's going to be a number of fast runners. It's tough when you are out on your own, so it will be good to have a group to run with as that should help everyone go quicker."
Melissa Whyte (Inverness Harriers) hopes to have shrugged off a leg injury in time in her bid to complete a hat-trick of wins in the women's division of the race. Whyte commented: "I've been suffering from a calf strain. I had a week off running but was able to do some cycling and swimming so hopefully I'll be fine. If I can run quicker than 1:18 I'll be happy."
In addition to the half marathon, the race day programme also features a 5K fun run and Team Attack competition, which has attracted over 920 entrants. The Half Marathon starts at 13.00 at Bught Park, the 5K Team Attack at 13.15 and the 5K Fun Run at 13.20 and all races finish on the race track in Queens Park Stadium. Weather indications are encouraging as runners can expect a dry day of racing, with a moderate southwesterly wind.