Grantham Running Club member, Tommy Napier being the sole entrant from the club, travelled to Inverness for the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon on 2nd October. This was his first ever marathon and had been on his bucket list for some time. Proper training started 1st July with a gradual increase in mileage from his normal 12 mile a week to an average of 26 miles a week over the 12 week training cycle.
The route is arguably the most appealing of any marathon as well as the organisation. The 26-mile experience takes in the beautiful Highland scenery along the shores of Loch Ness, before crossing the River Ness and reaching the finish line in Bught Park in Inverness.
The 2500+ runners are transported by coach to the start line between Fort Augustus and Foyers. They then follow the route (B852) down to the edge of the loch at Foyers. Participants then follow Loch Ness’s south-eastern shore, making their way north-eastwards towards Dores at the northern edge of the loch. After Dores, the runners head into the Centre of Inverness, following the River Ness for the last mile to the finish line at Bught Park.
Tommy’s race strategy basically went out the window from the start, having gone off to fast for the first 13 miles in 02:01. Tommy had to dig deep into his reserves as he found the course challenging from 18 miles onward with the onset of leg cramps. He was satisfied to eventually complete the race in a time of 4:50:52.
He enjoyed chatting to fellow runners from the international field and the 900-mile round road trip over 5 days was well worth the effort. The weather was ideal on the day starting at 10am. Being led to the start line with a pipe band playing was a nice touch by the organizers. Runners received a t-shirt, and a medal with a welcome cup of Baxter’s soup at the finish.
The race was won by Dougie Selman of Corstorphine AAC in a time of 2:23:53, and the first female was Jemima Farley in a time of 2:48:15.
(Note: Photo above from Beeston 5 – no photo available from Loch Ness!)