In short: Amazing race, excellent organisation, beautiful scenery, but very lonely course In full: This was my first marathon, I had only run half marathons before (PB of 1:52 this year).
The organisation really impressed me. A whole fleet of buses to take us to a surreal start in the mist up on the moorland. Beautiful medal. Some post-race food. Ample drinks stations and Lucozade orange was a good choice. Timing device in the race number which I prefer over a chip attached to the shoe as I'm always terrified of that falling off.
I was expecting a hilly course, but I wasn't expecting it to be as hilly as this. The first 9 miles are downhill but there are a couple of sharp uphills thrown in there as well. The "flat" miles 9-17 along the lochside are in reality a little undulating. Miles 18-20ish killer uphills - more than one. The hardest thing about this race though, for me, was the loneliness aspect. Running beside Loch Ness is fantastic, I like the quietness of it at times, but until the village of Dores at mile 17/18 where the whole village is out in force, support is limited to the occasional person who has come out of a house to clap for runners. That support was really welcome and the long lochside miles without that were psychologically very hard for me. It's not until mile 24 that you come into Inverness and civilisation, and support.
Overall, this is a really great race and I would do it again, but it's hard. I'd imagine there are easier first marathons out there. Date of review: October 20, 2011