Distance – 26.2 miles
Terrain – Road
Hilliness -866 foot elevation – lumpy!
First finishing time – 2.29.31
Last finishing time – 8.38.59
Goody bag – Yes with T shirt / Medal and freebies…
I completed the Loch Ness Marathon on 6th October 2019, this is my experience of the day…
Loch Ness Marathon Eve
The day before the race, I picked up my number from the expo which was a gazebo in a large field in Inverness. Here, the volunteers were really helpful and encouraging – it was much quieter than the London Marathon expo, that’s for sure! Outside there were backdrops which enabled you to grab a photo with your number which I thought was a nice touch. You also had the opportunity to pose with Nessie herself!
Picking up my race number!
The big day..
The actual day of the marathon was a really early start. I arrived for the bus at 645 and there were possibly more buses than there were runners! It took about one hour to get to the beginning of the race by coach where you are dropped at the top of some mountains and it was bloody freezing! I absolutely loved the bagpipes which was a nice touch – what I didn’t like so much was the half a mile queue for the toilets – I ended up having a bush stop with the lads which was interesting to say the least! In the end most of the women were so desperate and were just squatting in full view of everyone..
On the walk to the start line, ‘500 miles’ from the Proclaimers was on loop and it was pretty awesome to hear all the runners singing at the top of their voices! Once the race started, there was an immediate downhill section – I ensured that I pulled back to my usual long distance pace and didn’t get swept up in the herd who were tearing down. Or those weaving in and out of the runners at sprint pace, yeah you know the ones, you usually see them walking at mile 3.. 🙂
At mile 5, we were already seeing a sharp ‘up hill’, this was the perfect opportunity for me to remove some layers on the walk up and take in some nutrition. Once at the top however, there was another steep downhill… it pretty much went like this until mile 13.
I was careful not to get caught up in the ‘going out too quickly gang’ at the beginning of the race as the real marathon starts at mile 13. I definitely run ‘with my head’ so it was important to run my own race and not to pay too much attention to what others were doing….
The Loch came into view at around mile 6, and needless to say it was absolutely beautiful. I looked for Nessie but I think she was still napping. The views were just absolutely breath taking.
Mile 13… (it started getting interesting)
At mile 13, my stomach decided it wanted to turn itself out which meant a good 20 minute wait for the toilet… that’s when I actually found one. Unfortunately the toilet situation was dire. When I did eventually find a loo on the course, there were only 2 or 3 – this wasn’t ideal for the number of runners. The marshals also seemed to have no idea when the next loo was. Since the marathon, I have since learnt that many of the loos were off the actual track – so they were not sign posted very well. I don’t think I have ever seen so many bare bums in my life, people were just so desperate and going in bushes at the side of the road. I also used this method twice… When you’ve gotta go and all that…
From around 17 miles, we were greeted with a 2-mile hill…. I used a walk / run method for this, especially as my stomach was in absolute bits. this was definitely a more challenging section of the run and it doesn’t level out until beyond mile 19. It was a time when you really did need to dig deep.
From mile 19, it was a steady plod into Inverness. From the top, it was time to come down but it was important not to get too carried away – my legs were really tired at this point!
There is one final uphill stretch around the 21 mile point but from there onward it levels out and remains essentially flat all the way to the finish line. At mile 22, my trusty Garmin notified me that I had 10% battery left – bloody marvelous! So, all music had to be switched off which was playing through my watch.
Speaking of music, I asked all those close to me to give me funny songs that either brought back a memory or made me smile whilst sporting a grimace during the run. This was a brilliant idea given to me by Fran Bennett (our lady Crusader at the Fareham Crusaders) – it certainly kept me going! My fav recommendation was from my sister Jenni- ‘ Donald whars yer troosers’
Mile 23 / 24
Around the 23 mile mark, the route edges into the quiet tree-lined residential streets of the built-up area. By 24 miles I could hear the cheers from the other side of the river as I was actually running parallel to the finish line! Doh!!!! That last mile was rough and I ran with a stranger for that last bit.
Loch Ness is a great Marathon but don’t underestimate it – there is a lot of downhill, but so steep that you need to brake. The race also has steep climbs so it’s definitely a test of endurance. Did I ever tell you that I hate hills?
I’ve had lots of questions as to what Marathon I preferred out of London and Loch Ness, but it would like be choosing a favourite child. Both are so different, and it would be difficult to decide as both have their pros and cons.
Pro’s -Friendly, absolutely stunning, amazing meal and goody bag, lovely route, the downhills, the atmosphere at the start of the marathon, peaceful, free soup!, less congestion than other bigger marathons.
Con’s – Lack of toilets! (definitely needs a review), can be lonely at times, no supporters, rubbish left by runners, the early start, the damn hills!
I hope you enjoyed the write up. Did you run the Loch Ness or are you considering this race? I would love to hear your thoughts!
May your miles be long and your injuries few