In short: Great start to 2009. Cold, Cold, Cold! In full: My first time at this event, enjoyed the course, a little slippy in places due to ice, and 3 short steep hills....it sure aint 'flat' anyway! Mostly set in the park and away from traffic which was good. Well organised, lots of brave marshalls standing in the -0C temperatures...big thanks to them for keeping cheering on. Facilities at Garscube excellent...lots of changing areas, warm radiators to sit by (!), plenty of lockers, short walk to start / finish, hot showers. Really appreciated this as I went by bus to the event, so it was good to have somewhere warm to change and secure to leave clothes. Very easy to get to on public transport. Will do this again....and hopefully it will not be -0C something....;)) Date of review: January 3, 2009
In short: A Monster 'Tastic Marathon In full: My second time at Loch Ness. Its certainly easier when you know what to expect of the terrain!
A great race overall with fantastic organisation. The trip to the start involves a convoy of coaches with Harley Davidson motorcycle outriders clearing the road ahead, every coach company in the Highlands must be employed on this race. The trip all ran smoothly leaving time for toilet queuing / changing and a warming tea at the start.
Start is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by glorious countryside, great run down to the lochside, a few short sharp uphills, then on to the dreaded hill at 17.5 to 20, once over that its plain sailing into Inverness for the last 6 miles. Great crowds and support at Dores, and before that a great touch was some locals who had attached a speaker to their farm gate and were blasting out Scottish music and cheering the runners.
A very nice medal and a very very generous goody bag, my only (very insignificant) fault of which I could say is there is so much in it (its sooooo heavy!) its like the last thing you want to carry when you have ran 26 miles! But I soon passed it on to my support to carry! Two tins of soup and two jars of pickle, a choc muffin, a banana, a t-shirt, a bottle of water and two bottles of lucozade sport. A minor suggestion, could we have a small bar of choc instead of two tins of soup? This comes from the sponsors I suppose, but something sugary and edible straight away would be better than something you have to carry home to cook. Some Canadians in the same b+b as me gave all the food from their goody bag to the landlord as they could not take it on the plane home, which I thought was a bit of a shame. But hey, I'm not complaining at all, the last (half) mara I did was advertised as having a goody bag and we got nothing at all, so this was an abundance of goodies!!
Overall a fantastic and highly recommended, well organised, friendly Scottish race. A must do event for a taste of the Highlands. Date of review: October 6, 2008
In short: Nice route, freezing North wind! In full: Did the Half, very scenic on the coastal section and with some nice single track roads on the last stretch. A few busy roads involved on the route with fast / crazy motorists dodging between the runners, but mostly the traffic was considerate.
Organisation overall excellent and plenty of water stations and supplies handed out by friendly volunteers. Little / no spectators apart from ones who knew folk running, but thats maybe cos it was bloomin' freezin in the wind!
Got a nice medal and good quality t-shirt, but I did wonder where the advertised 'goody bags' went? My support said all the 10k runners got one but there were none left for the Halfers or Full Marathoners. Not a major gripe as there was free food back at the town hall, but a Mars bar or something sugary to snack would have been nice at the end.
Finish line was in a very nice park, with loads of car parking space and all facilities just a short walk away. More toilets would be useful in future as the number of people entering this event seem to be increasing each year. Date of review: September 7, 2008
In short: Spectacular Hebridean scenery and loads of very 'fresh' air! In full: Only my second marathon so far, but Wow what a day out! My lungs have never felt so full of fresh air (most of it getting blown in at 20mph!). After this combination of wind and hills I think I could run just about anywhere and get a PB!
Fantastic organisation, very friendly race, good camraderie, and a small entry field of only 89 runners made this feel more like a good day out with some old mates rather than the 'anonymous' feeling you get in some of the bigger races. For large chunks of it the field was very spread out so you get used to hearing nothing but the sound of the wind and the birds (and seeing the occasional local out cutting peat and waving hello).
An absolutely unique start at the Callanish Stones, what other race can say they started at a 5000 year old stone circle? Route out past Iron Age Dun Carloway Broch, and up onto the peat moor, spectacular views of the lochans and Harris hills in the distance, it doesnt get much better or wilder than this. And then, 'The Wind', I reckon some super fast pb's would have been achieved IF, er... the wind had been BEHIND us!
The last 3 miles of the route going through Lews Castle Gardens were a welcome break from the wind, but the gravel surface and a couple of short steep slopes played havoc with my knackered old ankles and flat feet! However, the run into the finish was great, a nice flat wind-free relief after the miles of slog.
Thanks to all the TA and Army Cadets who provided friendly support at the drinks stations out in the middle of nowhere, reminded me of the camraderie from my Army days. And thanks to all the local support at the finish line. Great medal of the stones and a good technical t-shirt you can actually wear for training. A big Well Done to Tony for organising a great race and thanks to all the 100mc members I met both during the race, and next day at the Rodel Hotel on Harris, for all their support and friendliness towards a marathon novice like myself.
Would I do it again? Well....if we could guarantee the wind was coming from the South West!!! :)) Date of review: May 27, 2008
In short: Great Morning Out in the Park In full: Another year...another Womens 10K. Great atmopshere from start, good support on route, people out in force this year. Heard from my supporters that there were (yet again) folk walking in the sub-55min (purple) group only 1km from the start, thereby holding up people behind. When are these people gonna get realistic with their times?! Nice move from GCC this year sending cyclists out to clear the walkers onto the footpaths so they wouldnt cause so much obstruction as in previous years. Date of review: May 18, 2008