Race Report by David James
Its been a while since I submitted a race report, but as the sole runner representing Massey’s in Scotland for The Loch Ness Marathon , I felt maybe I ought to write one.
This was my second (and last!) Marathon. After narrowly missing out on a sub 4 in London 2 years ago, I thought where better to return to the distance than the beautiful scenic highlands near Inverness and the surrounding area.
This race caught my eye at a promotional stand at the London expo. The fact that it’s a rural point to point route, which starts way up in the highlands near Fort Augustus, and finishes in the town of Inverness, really appealed to me.
I have to say the organization of this race was incredible! On the morning of the race the roads are all closed off and all 3000 runners taking part were driven by bus up to the start point. The atmosphere was fantastic with a big PA system getting everyone fired up and ready. There were also toilets and bag drop lorries ready to take your gear to the finish. So with a group of bagpipers to play us off it was game on.
The weather was crisp and a little windy at the beginning and I was beginning to question my decision wearing just a vest top, but after a couple of miles the warmth kicked in and it was a good call. The first half of the route was pretty much down hill with a few challenging little uppers to contend with. The scenery was just breathtaking as the descent lead to a good 10-mile stretch running along side the iconic Loch Ness. Unfortunately there was no monster to be spotted in the calm dark waters of the Loch, but after doing some research on the route I knew there was a monster of a 2-mile hill starting on mile 18 coming up outside the quaint village of Dores.
This was really physically and mentally challenging and to drop it in at such a long distance into the race was a big ask. I got my head down, dropped my pace and got through it. I was then rewarded with some nice down hill and level stretches of road, which lead away from Nessie country and headed into the City of Inverness.
The support really ramped up at this point with lots of encouragement from the locals and well lined streets of cheers and encouragement. The last mile of the race is down one side of the river Ness, over the bridge in the town centre, then back down the other side to the finish line in Bught Park. The last mile was a real struggle for me as the dreaded wall reared its ugly head, but I managed to cross the line at 3 hours 45 minutes, taking 21 minutes of my previous effort 2 years ago in London.
I would whole-heartedly recommend this event, for me it had it all. The scenery on route, the pre-race atmosphere, transport to the start, and the warmth and friendliness of the people up there. It’s a great place for a mini break and we did just that having 5 days up there. I would have say this is one of the best events I have run in, along with my best performance in the red and white vest.