The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running was a resounding success this weekend, with faster race times, a record number of entrants and a new event village. A wet start to the day didn't dampen the spirits of the competitors and spectators, as the sun came out for the finish of all the races.
The marathon event was won by Ethiopian Tomas Abyu of Salford Harriers in 2:20:50 and the women's course record was smashed by winner Dinknesh Mekash Tefera, also of Ethiopia, with a time of 2:46:39. Tefera, winning on her first visit to the UK, said, 'I enjoyed running through the beautiful countryside and am very happy to have achieved a new course record.'
The Baxters River Ness 10K was won by Artur Kern of Poland in 29:42, closely followed by Scot Andrew Douglas of Inverclyde Athletic Club in 30:28. First in the women's 10K was course record holder Cathy Mutwa of Kenya (34:46), followed by local lass, Melissa Whyte from Inverness, in 36:06.
As well as the main marathon and 10K events, runners were also able to enjoy the beautiful northern countryside by competing in the River Ness 5K and Wee Nessie for children, as well as enjoying the Baxters Highland Food and Drink Fayre, as part of Scotland's Year of Food and Drink. 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, were just some of the treats on offer for spectator and runners alike.
Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Sandy Park, said: "I am pleased that so many runners, supporters, families and friends travelled to the Highland capital to enjoy the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running. The combination of stunning Highland scenery, including spectacular Loch Ness, and the opportunity to be part of this world-class event has attracted a record number of entries and spectators to this year's event and I congratulate each and every one of today's participants on their run."
Malcolm Sutherland of Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running said: "The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running's reputation as one of the most friendly and most scenic marathons has helped to attract a growing number of runners from all corners of the globe and we are delighted to welcome everyone to the Highlands for the event. This year the Baxters Highland Food and Drink Fayre and the first Wee Nessie for pre-school age children have added a special attraction for families and friends coming along to cheer on the runners. We look forward to welcoming you all back to Inverness again in the future".
A packed programme of activities and entertainment throughout the day featured 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.