A record number of entries have been received for this year's Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival Of Running. Coupled with the potential for faster race times and the introduction of a new event village, this Sunday's event is one not to be missed.
The largest entry field in the Festival's history will see well over 8,600 runners from 41 countries travelling to the Highlands for the UK's most scenic marathon, which is expected to generate significant economic benefit for the local area over the weekend. Over £660,000 was raised for charity through last year's event, the biggest participatory sporting event north of the Central Belt.
In a new development for 2010, runners will cross the finish line in a new event village adjacent to the River Ness at Bught Park, a short walk from the centre of Inverness. A corresponding move in the start-line at Whitebridge on the south-side of Loch Ness will provide a faster start for the marathon, and is expected to generate faster times overall. A similar move in the start and finish lines for the Baxters River Ness 10K and a new scenic 5K route along the River Ness and through the Ness Islands also applies.
Runners and spectators at this year's Festival will join the celebrations for Scotland's Year of Food and Drink through the addition of the Baxters Highland Food and Drink Fayre in the Bught Park. Hot garlic bread, steaming bowls of delicious soup, roasting pig, local venison, salmon on bagels and locally brewed beer, and cooking demonstrations by Baxters Head Chef David King, are just some of the treats on offer for spectator and runners alike.
Everyone is invited to come along to the event village (free entry) to cheer on the runners crossing the finish line for all events including the Marathon, the River Ness 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge, the 5K Fun Run and, for the first time this year, the Wee Nessie. A packed programme of activities and entertainment throughout the day has something for all ages and features live music from Feis Rois, pipes and drums, Highland dancing display, climbing wall, bouncy castles and face painting, as well as charity and sports retailer stands.
New race, the Wee Nessie, is a short race for pre-school children, who can toddle, walk or jog around a 400m course in Bught Park. Children can be accompanied by a parent or carer.
Entry for all races is now closed although there are limited entries for the 5K (and Wee Nessie) over the weekend. Parking is limited at Bught Park and surrounding area so spectators and supporters are encouraged to travel to the event by foot or by taxi/public transport.