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
In short: Very special - will remember this for a long time In full: As a relative newcomer to running in general and particularly with this being my first ever marathon, I had felt a certain amount of trepidation before this event. I needn't have worried - apart from the bus situation ('nuff said already, I don't need to say any more) this has been the best event I've entered so far. From the very friendly and supportive fellow runners (with special thanks to my hostel room-mates Liz and Anne, you know who you are, ladies!) to the efficient and smooth organisation, to the course itself. I loved it - perfect weather, beautiful scenery, supportive locals, even the two-mile hill couldn't dampen my spirits (even if it did kill my quads!) And as the final bonus I smashed my target time and finished in 3.45 (and I could have shaved a couple of seconds off this if I hadn't slowed to high-five the gorilla! Cheers mate - really made me smile when I needed it most! :D ) All in all, a near-perfect day - I'm sure this has spoiled me for other events. I will certainly be back in a couple of years! Date of review: October 9, 2009
In short: A great race, in beautiful place as long as you run at the right pace. Marshalls, other runners and the spectators were very supportive. The weather was close to perfect. I just tried running too fast in the first half of the race, and paid for it. Date of review: October 9, 2009
In short: Great scenery, great people, great race, great tim had by all. In full: Apart from a mess up by the bus companies it was a very well organised event and one which i am glad to call my very first marathon. Ill be back. Date of review: October 9, 2009
In short: Fun, Fab & Fantastic!!! In full: Exceptional marathon in every sense. My 2nd Loch Ness (and 2 PB's - so can't be that bad!)- and it won't be the last. A big thank you to all the helpers/marshalls who were very friendly and encouraging. Great scenery. Goodie bag & medal were brill, too. Tee shirt was nice, but would prefer a technical tee even if it means paying a higher price for entry. Well done Baxters - see you next year :o) Date of review: October 8, 2009
In full: Perfect weather , Stunning scenery , well organised except for the buses from inverness and the one in front of ours breaking down . Thank you to all the villagers young and old for your support and especially the old lady who gave me some jelly babies at 23 miles ! see you next year . Date of review: October 7, 2009
In short: Great scenery spoilt by great incompetence In full: As background information to my comments, I would like to point out that I travelled from Germany to do the race, and spent a lot of time and money doing it. So maybe you can understand if I am a little more critical than other people.
1. There was no record of my pasta party ticket which I had ordered. fair enough.......these things happen.
2. The bus fiasco. I guess you have heard enough about this, but my comment is simply this: couldn't they of sent someone around the buses informing us of the problem? Would that have been so difficult? We waited for over an hour. The toilet on the bus was full and disgusting and........well, you know.........Why use buses at all? Why not start and finish at the stadium? Out and back course? Is it because of traffic regulations? Other cities manage it!
3. I informed the organizers when I entered the race that I had my OWN Champions Chip. Imagine my surprise when I found another race Chip in my race envelope despite this. I had already had so much hassle and was so tired I couldn't be bothered to report this, so I just ran with BOTH chips.......thinking that I couldn't go wrong........but I was wrong..........you guessed it.....
4. There are no race results and consequently no photos for me. I have no idea why. I had 2 chips and neither seemed to have worked. Hmmmmmm
All these problems in themselves are not SERIOUS I guess(except for the buses fiasco)and I am fully aware how hard it is to organize a biggish race, but taken all in all, they were more than annoying. I wouldn't do the race again because of them.
There were positive aspect of course - above all the scenery, the bagpipes and the excellent food but the organizational incompetence (which I have never experienced in any other race) unfortunately put the dampeners on those aspects. Date of review: October 7, 2009