In short: Awesome In full: First time at this marathon and very impressed. Well documented bus problems only blemish really and prepared to give organisers the benefit of the doubt. Hope however they take on board the issue and consider how big they can let this event become before logistic problems start to occur.
From my perspective everything else was spot on. Friendly atmosphere amongst the runners, great support in the villages and of course that scenery. Also superb and supportive marshalling and more than adequate drink stations. And then add in the perfect weather and my first sub-4 hour marathon on what is a fairly challenging course!
In short: The best marathon in Britain In full: Everything about this race is great. Great scenery, great organisation, great atmosphere. Its well worth the trip up to inverness. Highly recommended. Date of review: October 18, 2009
In short: A monster race In full: Fabulous event, great marshalls & supporters, amazing scenery. Definitely undulating but the scenery andthe atmosphere took your mind off that. The problems with the buses did not spoil the atmosphere at the start it just meant we got to look at the beauty even longer. The start in the middle of a valley was awesome and the pipers were a lovely touch. Even the weather was perfect. Also liked the breakfast run on the Saturday and the Pasta party. Cant fault this race and cant wait to come back and have another look for that monster. Date of review: October 13, 2009
In short: Well done to all involved! In full: I was also on the bus that broke down at the first hill, but managed to get hold of family members to give us and others a lift to the start (after walking 1 1/2 miles)we were worrying that the start would happen without us! Once started the race was glorious, weather was fantastic for running, pipers at the start added to the fantastic views. Mainly downhill (with a few brutal inclines) for the first half of the race and found the hill at 19 a bit of a killer (now know to do more hill training if I'm doing this one again) but still managed a PB (just) which I was amazed by as the training had not all gone to plan. Organisation was great, marshalls very friendly and helpful, supporters along the route very welcome, showers at the finish were lovely, basically can't fault this race and if it was your first then yes you have been spoilt they're not all this good! Date of review: October 11, 2009
In short: Superb marathon to pop my marathon cherry :-) In full: I was on the bus that couldnt make it up the hill, but managed to thumb a lift with some random Austrian runners who drove past!! BIG thanks for the lift guys, seems I still owe you a beer!!
Besides the bus issues it was a wicked race.
The hills were a constant part of the race, though never a real problem if you do any sort of hill work in training.
The post race meal with live music rounded it off for me 100%. I will be back to tangle again with Nessie in a few years I am sure.
In short: What a race! Scenic, great atmosphere and very well organised. In full: On the Saturday there is the pasta party and registration. The registration was very quick and didn't even have to queue. The event is sponsored by baxters, so not surprisingly the 3 course meal was excellent and there was plenty of seats in the Marquee.
Now on to the buses incident on the Sunday. Buses were meant to leave at 8 but unforetunatley due to problems 3 buses didn't make it so had to wait 45 minutes till it got sorted. This did not dappen spirits at all. And I have to say I would rather sit in a bus for 45 minutes than have to wait 45 minutes longer at the start! Once w got to the start about 10am (when it was meant to start). We were informed the start would be at 10.50am which gave us the same amount of time to prepare as we would have had if we arrived on time. The start was buzzing and full of many nationalities.
We got going and the scenery was glorious. Although it has a reputation as a hilly race, the first 9 miles are a net downhill as the race starts at 375 metres and at about 9 miles hits loch ness level. There is a long uphill about 4 miles but its not too steep then a short sharp up hill at 5 miles. Along the lochside there are quite a few undulations but generally pretty flat. At the 16 mile mark you enter Dores and also there was about 50-100 people cheering you on, it was electric! Before this you get the odd supporter which is apprectiated! But the people at Dores certainly turned it up a notch and left me buzzing for the next few miles. At mile 17 out of Dores there is a gentle uphill. Then the real work starts at 18 as the uphill goes a bit steeper and lasts about a mile. Then there is a gentle downhill from 19.5 to 21. At 21 there is a fair climb but its good in the knowledge it was the last climb of the day.
As you get to mile 22, the first roundabout - the crowds start lining the street and as you turn in to Ness walk the crowds got bigger which was great. You then go beside the river to near the center of Inverness, cross the bridge and you are nearly at mile 25. You then run back along the other side towards the stadium which you can hear from quite far away but you still have to run round the stadium and then on to the running track for a sprint, ahem, hobbling finish ;-)
The finish was amazing, along with the medal which the put over your head (the way it should be) , and the goody bag was full of useful post race food! Its also worth to note you can take a bag to the startline and then shove it in a lorry and its waiting for you at the finish! Also good if the weather changes on the way to the start!
Overall an excellent race and a nice shiny new PB for me :-) I would advise any one doing this race to do plently of hillwork, and include plenty of hills on your long runs and try and make the toughest hills at the end of your long run. I was very comfertable going up the hills and overtook a lot of people walking/slow running up the hills between 17-21.5 miles.
If there is a more scenic marathon in the UK please please please let me know! Date of review: October 10, 2009
In short: Enjoy a bus journey through great scenery to the start, and then run back alongside the Loch. More than just a run, it's an experience. In full: Because this race starts in the middle of nowhere, there is only one way to go and that is head for Inverness. You can't go wrong here because if you slow down you can enjoy the scenery more, but if you speed up you can achieve a PB. It's undulating and on reflection it could be a race to run a slower first half. The up hill stretches more than make up for the speed you are tempted to clock on the down hills. In other words keep a steady pace rather than trying to gain time by over doing it on the descents. Gordon Ross' suggestion of an out and back course would deny runners the sense of achievement of running the 24 mile length of the Loch.
There is little room for improving this race. The entrance to the stadium is a very sharp right, with a kerb. I cramped up here and it really breaks the pace you have worked hard to achieve. Perhaps using the main entrance and shifting the finish line to the opposite end of the track might make for a more polished finale. Also there were very few toilets at the finish. Perhaps a couple of portaloos in the runners enclosure would relieve the problem! The expo was rubbish. Runners are on the hunt for free stuff....that's why we go to the expo's. Not a lot on offer here except over priced running gear...including the sale rail where you'd expect some bargains.
It is more than a run. The bus journey, the pasta party, the post race meal, the location, traveling to Inverness by train (great to see snow so early) and a course that only occasionally can accommodate the crowds, simply because it is in somewhat of a wilderness. Make a weekend of it if you go and savour the event. Date of review: October 10, 2009