In short: Super friendly, amazing value and stunning scenery as standard In full: This was my first marathon and what a way to kick things off.
My running buddy and I arrived from Bristol on Friday night and ignoring all advice stuffed ourselves with curry and a couple of pints at one of Inverness' finest before hitting the sack at our super comfortable and hospitable B&B. Saturday was spent dealing with the aftermath of the curry, a trip to watch Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Hibs and taking in carbs in various forms (including at the excellent pasta party).
After an early night it was an early start to get the coach from the running village. All very smoothly organised and nice to compare notes with other runners (2 fellas from Denmark) on the bus. Tip: go to the toilet while you are at the village before you get on the coach. The queues for the portaloos by the start had to be seen to be believed.
There was a excellent atmosphere at the start and it was great to get underway. Water and gel stops came thick and fast. The water bottles were the perfect size to hold while running and I found that making a bottle last between each stop kept me well hydrated. The gel stops had a choices of blocks or a thick gel. The blocks worked best for me and they had been handily opened ready for easy access.
Support was good considering the remoteness of the route and what it lacked in numbers was more than made up for in enthusiasm.
The miles whizzed by chatting to a variety of runners. The race entered a different (and harder) phase at about 19 miles with the hill after Dores. I was glad of my hill training in Bristol at this stage but overall, even with the undulating nature of the course, it feels like you are mostly going downhill.
The miles after Dores we generally either downhill or flat and the support became greater the nearer you got to the finish in inverness. To be honest I wasn't really in a state to fully appreciate the last mile being completely depleted, but once through the finishing line and with a couple of bananas inside me it was great to kick back, enjoy having finished (03.43.52) and watch others arrive home.
The organisation of this race is incredible and for £40 (2 x three course meals, bus to start, very good quality running shirt and goody bag) it was an amazing value. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
In short: My favourite marathon. Organisation is second to none. The course has a couple of hills but is more undulating. The scenery is amazing. Marshalls are very supportive. Crowd support can be sparse in places but overall is good. An amazing race. Date of review: October 6, 2013
In full: This was my first marathon (50th birthday present from my marathon running mate!!)and I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere of the whole weekend was brilliant, facilities were great including a welcome hot shower before legging it to airport for our flight home. The post race meal had a choice of risotto, chicken or STOVIES which were fab !! The race was well organised with a coach trip to the start along the loch and bagpipes to send you on your way ...emotional. The course threw up a couple of unexpected hills and undulations but the scenery and the support from locals along the way just kept me going and the welcome coming back into Inverness brought a tear to my eye ..or maybe it was the emotion of completing my first marathon but whatever it was a hugely positive experience all round. Date of review: October 5, 2013
In short: My favourite marathon to date. In full: Out of this world scenery, clockwork organisation with great aid stations, considerate finish area and brilliant technical t-shirt and medal. A race that seems to be organised first and foremost by people that know what it is like to run a marathon. The journey to the start was long but well managed and it was worth every second to start a marathon with the most amazing view and sound of pipers - spine tingling! We had been warned about 'the hill' and I was mentally and physically ready for it. What I was less ready for is how undulating the rest of the course was. If like me you are nervous about going off too quickly it is difficult to take advantage of the downhill profile, making it quite a tough run. That said, I loved every single second of it!! Chatted to more runners than ever before and the support in Inverness was quite overwhelming after 25 quiet miles.
This was my fourth marathon and despite the course being quite challenging, I still managed a PB and so don't be scared by the hills (was vey glad I trained for them though).
Great location for a weekend away and I can't recommend this race highly enough. It is a guaranteed memory maker! Date of review: October 3, 2013
In short: Dores Hill worries ? just 61 metres incline over 3 miles.....! In full: A fabulous race, unforgettable scenery, warm welcoming organisors, and pretty good food before ( pasta party) and afterwards food voucher is a welcome treat !
The whole city of inverness embraces the race, the atmosphere is brilliant without being intimidating.
The drinks stations are positioned just right on the route. The only heart stopping moments are the journey to the start....make sure you `go` before you get on the coach to the start...its a full HOUR before you disembark. The organisors did a great job, however the masses of runners formed 2 queues to the toilets, and one of them was a hot drinks station, so be careful not to join the wrong one ! - A simple laminated map of the start area could be on the bus to hand around...that way everyone could see where they needed to head to ( most people just jumped into the heather/trees when they saw the queue anyway !
And now THAT hill...its not steep, its just long and a shock to the legs after effectively a 17 mile largely down hill run ( A few hills within that 17 miles...but hey..its Scotland !!!) I have learned as a trail runner that runners dont like hills..especially marathon runners but dont let this hill put you off...actually there is another little gradient increase at 23 miles which hurts a lot more ! I measured Dores from mile 17-20 and its only 61 metres incline over the 3 miles...get it done and then enjoy the Baxters soup. `Happy Trails` Date of review: October 3, 2013
In short: A great race, brilliant scenery, great organisation, tough hills!! In full: This was my first marathon. Do not underestimate the course, although the profile looks downhill, there are rolling hills throughout the course. Dores Hill at 18 miles is tough. The hill itself isn't particularly steep but its a long hill and after 18 miles it really took its toll on me. The atmosphere throughout the run was amazing with good banter between runners and great support from the pockets of people along the way. Bigger crowds as you come into Inverness with fabulous support at the finish. A great medal, t-shirt, goody bag and food. Although I've never felt so much pain whilst running before (cramp at Dores Hill) it has not put me off entering next year where I plan to tame the monster that is Dores Hill. This race should be on everyone's to do list!! Date of review: October 2, 2013
In short: A gorgeous but tough course that requires hill training regardless of the apparent downhill profile .... In full: The course is challenging from start to finish, extremely undulating with some steep down hills and lots of up hills along the way. I did PB by almost 3 mins on the day but I had not hill trained, I really wish I had run some hills in my programme and I could have easily achieved the sub 3.30 I was chasing! Gorgeous views, brilliant organisation and my entry is already in for next year! Well done the organisers for getting it all so right! :) Date of review: October 2, 2013
In short: My favourite! In full: Went back to do this for the 5th time and have already signed up for next year :) Brilliant organisation! Lovely scenery! Friendly Marshall's! The whole thing from start to finish is superb :) Date of review: October 2, 2013
In short: Great course, excellent organisation would definitely do it again! In full: The course is mainly flat with a very high potential of a PB. The organisers have got it spot on. The weather was amazing today and it was great seeing so many spectators and supporters along the route. Will definitely be back next year! Date of review: September 29, 2013