In short: Spectacular race, very friendly, even a good technical t shirt In full: The race lived up to its billing, with spectacular views over the hills as we came up to the start on the bus, and even delivered perfect sunny conditions. I got the bus from Drumnadrochit, which meant a slightly later pick up time and a trip round the other side of the Loch, which was good. Great atmosphere on the bus, and just enough time to get to the start line after handing in my bag. Flew down the first mile and carried on at pace, passing the half way in close to a HM PB, but then reality kicked in with the 2 mile hill at 18 miles.
Had a good value massage in the tent afterwards and a very welcome bowl of curry, along with a technical shirt that I will actually use and a nice medal. Really good value.
The only thing I'd change is the registration. As I wasn't staying in Inverness, just coming in to pick up the number, which took 1 minute and could have been posted, was a bit of a mission. Date of review: October 4, 2012
In short: A very special race In full: This was my second marathon, VLM in 2010 being my first. Organisers of this event have certainly got it nailed. Pre race registration easy, the coaches up to the start all on time and leave promptly and things to do for spectators. We put together a 7 day break around this event with another couple and I will just list a few pointers below which you may find helpfull. Firstly, drive to Inverness, I drove from Norwich, very long way and overnighted in Berwick upon Tweed. If you decide on flying or train you are limited in Inverness as to what you want to do for a few days. However, Inverness is a very nice city. Loch Ness and Urqhart Castle are a must and we also drove over to Fort William to ride the Jacobite train along the most scenic railway journey in the world. Also, the Castle Pub, real ales, real food, the ales after the race!!! Back to the race! Having done VLM as my first marathon, the crowds, as expected are in not in numbers here. For the first 25 miles you are on your own apart from the odd house you pass with people cheering. Fantastic scenery, from the word go until Inverness, you do literally follow the Loch, 90% of the way. Sureal start up in the highlands as you are Pipped over the start by a band. Excellent value for money, great medal and Techincial T Shirt. Reviews say it can be fast, which I will agree with to a point, but there are one or two tricky steep climbs early on, one in particular at the 6 mile mark, where I saw people walking. Another long climb, not so steep is at 18 miles. I was plesed with my performance to a point, ran 20.5 miles without stopping until an old football knee injury cut in. Walk and and ran the last 5.5miles, hopeful of breaking the VLM PB, but failed by 3 minutes. Lastly, all I can say is, if you want a marathon which is totally different then do it. I would like to say, that I will probably do it again, but living so far away I probably never will. A special, special race....... Date of review: October 4, 2012
In short: Beautiful views but a bit lonely In full: Great race, great vistas, great weather!!! I got a PB, very happy with dipping under 3h50 on the undulating course. Badged as the "friendliest" marathon but in my opinion it isn't. There is virtually no crowd apart from the last mile due to its location. I love the support of the crowd so this was a bit of a downside for me in an otherwise great day. I'll stop moaning now. Date of review: October 4, 2012
In short: This continues to be one of my favourite marathons. Organisation, scenery and local support is second to none. The course isn't the flattest but I've managed to get 3 of my best marathon times on this course. I'll be back next year. Date of review: October 3, 2012
In short: Complete one off of a race but be prepared and not to be taken lightly In full: The start was like nothing I have ever or will ever experience again as mountainous scenery was unreal.Although I had done some hill training reckon a few cross training sessions would have benefitted as the undulations came back to haunt me late on (20m+) . Organisation was spot on as everyone involved played their part in making everything run so smoothly on the day. Was nice to see runners from all over turn out for this one , was on my to do list and may well come back one day and have another go . Date of review: October 3, 2012
In short: A great event, well organised, friendly race...just don't get too carried away in the first few miles! In full: A PB for me - HURRAH! It was worth a turn of the head to look back at some amazing undulating (key word!) hills (behind me!!), the crisp, autumnal weather made it perfect! A couple of ascents which certainly challenged my, by then fatigued legs (ouch!), The drinks/ gel stops, marshals, support at the end - guy on the bike(!?!) for a lot of the the route - THANK YOU for your support! ALL good! The only thing I would say - next year can someone turn down the blower on the last half mile home stretch!!!!!? That wind was mean! ;0)
In short: Amazing In full: If you like spectactular views this is the marathon for you. I am an experienced marathon runner, this being my thirtieth (including multi day events and ultras). As a marathon this now has to be one of my favorites.
Is it a fast race? I would disagree with most people and say this race has PB potential, being my second fastest marathon. The start is downhill, and any hills you climb later are short and steep, but are more than compensated by long slow descents. The wind also pushed me along!
The gels, drinks and water were very generous, the marshals were first class. The end was fantastic, curry, soup, bagpipes and a beer tent!
The only downer I suppose was lack of toilets at the start, but us men can normally make 'other arrangements' so its not a big deal.
Even if this is not a fast race, do it anyway. Its still quite small so not massive running crowds, Inverness is pretty and you dont need taxis all weekend, and we shouldnt just do the flattest course just to get a PB. Should we? Date of review: October 2, 2012
In short: Starting in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands and with a big city atmosphere at the finish, this race has it all. In full: I can't imagine any other race where you start in the middle of nowhere surrounded by the most stunning scenery imaginable and you finish in a city with hundreds of spectators cheering you on. Just for that, this could be the UK's best marathon. On top of that though you have nice touches like being texted your time as soon as you're over the line, a decent goody bag (which makes what might appear to be an expensive race seem more than reasonably priced) and plenty of things to keep the family entertained whilst you run. Some will describe this as a tough race and you do need to do some hill training. But overall, it's downhill and the big hill from miles 18-20 isn't really that bad (more of a long slog than particularly steep). With a tailwind for virtually the whole course (other than the last half mile which is in the opposite direction), I managed not only a PB but a negative split. Just take it relatively easy during the first 10 miles which are almost entirely downhill (though there are a couple of nasty short sharp climbs) and you'll be fine. A big thank you from me to the organisers (especially whoever it was at the London expo this year who persuaded me to enter). And if you're thinking about entering, just do it now. You won't regret it for a moment. Date of review: October 2, 2012
In short: Always delivers In full: 3rd year and a surprising marathon PB! The course is beautiful but testing. None of the climbs are particularly steep but on tired legs they feel very wearing. The undulations (as well as the stunning scenery) do keep it interesting though! Brilliantly stocked fuel stations and thanks to the lovely first aid man who rescued me at the finish when severe cramp attacked my legs simultaneously. Date of review: October 2, 2012