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Records set at Highland capital finish line of Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running

By Andrew Dixon

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The Culbokie Prrimary party take on the 5km race.
Picture: Gary Anthony.
The Culbokie Prrimary party take on the 5km race. Picture: Gary Anthony.

The 2019 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running broke records by attracting its biggest ever numbers for its 18th year – amongst them hundreds making the trip from Ross-shire to take part.

Among thousands of runners and supporting spectators, Isaiah Kosgei from Metro Aberdeen RC came through to win the 26.2-mile event in a time of 2:29.31 in wet conditions.

The veteran Kenyan athlete finished more than a mile ahead of his closest challenger.

He said: "I left home in Iten on Tuesday and it took me a day to get to Nairobi. Then, because of a misunderstanding about flight times I had to spend 24 hours at the airport before flying to Oman then on to Manchester and finally Aberdeen where I stayed. I travelled up to Inverness on Saturday."

Kosgei, who was sporting a Metro Aberdeen vest in tribute to his friends at the north east club who have supported him during his visits to Scotland over the past two years, was determined that nothing would stop him from getting to Loch Ness.

Loch Ness Marathon winner Isaiah Kosgei.
Loch Ness Marathon winner Isaiah Kosgei.

He said: “Despite all the travel problems I did not give up. I stayed positive because I really wanted to be here to try to win after being fifth in 2017 and third last year. So, I need to thank everyone who has helped me, including my friends Alan Brown and Lynne Newcombe in Aberdeen and the race organisers."

He said: “I am grateful to win. It was a tough second half but I am so happy as this means so much to me. I am here to raise funds to support children at home who need help with getting access to education. Some of my prize money will be used for that.”

Nick Harris-Fry (Orion Harriers) finished second in 2:36:30 while Ed Rees (Sinn Allstars) took third position in 2:37:09 and German Jonas Muller (Roadrunners Sudbaden) was fourth in 2:39:16. Two-time previous champion Tarus Elly (Army Athletics) was 18th, with 2:50:24.

Katie White from Garscube Harriers was the winning female athlete in 2:42.04.

Katie White smashed the women’s course record when powering to victory in 2:42:04, a time bettered by only five men. The Garcube Harriers club member also showed remarkable powers of recovery after winning the Scottish half marathon title in Glasgow only seven days earlier.

She said: “Last week’s performance in Glasgow wasn’t planned. It was meant to be a final training run before Loch Ness but conditions were good so I just went for it. Despite that I was surprised how good I felt today. I had a bit of cramp around 17-18 miles but I got over that.

"I am delighted to get the course record and it’s not too far away from by best time, so that’s good. It’s a lovely course. I’ve only ever done the big city marathons so this was very different and I enjoyed it."

White, who is also a past winner of the Inverness Half Marathon, is now going to take a well earned break before getting ready for the cross country season.

Lairig Ghru mountain marathon winner Kerry Prise (Metro Aberdeen) finished second in 2:52:34 while the 2018 winner Sheena Logan (Fife A) was third in 2:54:24.

More than 9400 runners registered for this year’s series of events which included the marathon, the Baxters River Ness 10k, 10k Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5k and Wee Nessie.

In the Baxters River Ness 10K, the first male over the line was Cameron Strachan from Metro Aberdeen RC in a time of 30:31. Shortly followed by leading female Megan Keith from Inverness Harriers in 34:42.

Duncan MacDonald recorded 17min 13secs to win the Baxters River Ness 5km after fending off a strong challenge from his clubmate Jake Henderson who was only 16 secs behind while Gregor Nixon completed an Inverness Harriers clean sweep of the podium positions by taking third spot in 18:14.

MacDonald, a pupil at Millburn Academy, was delighted with the result which sets him up for the coming indoor track season. He said: “I’ve run in this event many times before but this is my first win. It was a tough race and I had a good battle with Jake so I am pleased to have won.

“After this I’m concentrating on the indoors this winter with the aim of getting my best 800m time down from 2min 11sesc to maybe 2:05. So, I won’t be doing any cross country racing.”

Anna Cairns, who won the Scottish under-13 cross country title earlier in the year, swept to an impressive victory in the girls’ division of the run to complete a successful weekend. The 13 year-old Fortrose youngster finished ahead of her clubmate Grace MacDonald in a reversal of the top two positions from 2018.

She said: “I was pleased to run 18:25 as it’s just four seconds outside my best for 5k. But I had another race yesterday when I won at the North District cross country league.

“My big aim for the winter is finish in the top three in the under-15 age group at the national cross country championships and to be selected to run for Scotland in the London mini marathon.”

MacDonald was runner-up in 18:53 with Kate Comisso (Ross County) third in 20:01.

Loch Ness Marathon veterans, Fiona Rennie of Carnegie Harriers, Kenneth Stewart of Perth Road Runners and Erica Christie who have never missed the race all completed the event.

The oldest competitor in the marathon was Roger Macmillan, who at the age of 82 travelled from Canada to complete his ninth marathon at Loch Ness.

After getting married yesterday, runners Alicia Hickey and Tom Stuart put their honeymoon plans on hold to run the marathon together.

Runners have again been dedicated to helping raise thousands of pounds for charity. Official charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support hope to receive in excess of £75,000 to help people living with cancer and their families.

Renowned as one of the most scenic and beautiful marathons in the world, runners came from more than 45 countries to take on the route that starts between Fort Augustus and Whitebridge before following a route along the south-side of Loch Ness into Inverness. Thousands of entrants for the other distances took to the streets of the Highland capital before finishing collectively at Bught Park.

Race director Malcolm Sutherland said: “What a fantastic event it’s been, welcoming thousands of new and returning faces to the Highlands. The atmosphere all weekend has been remarkable and the energy around the finish line is unprecedented.

"Seeing the event grow to record numbers over our rich 18-year history has been a highlight – it’s become a staple in the Scottish sporting calendar. Not only does it help get worldwide runners of all ages and abilities fit and healthy but also brings our community together and draws global attention to the Highlands in a superb spectator event.

"We’d like to thank all the runners and spectators but also our incredible army of volunteers who continue to bring inspirational energy and enthusiasm to make this event possible. Entries for the 2020 race are now open and we look forward to welcoming you all back next year for our 19th event.”

Audrey Baxter, executive chairwoman and group CEO of Baxters Food Group, said: "We are so proud to be the title sponsor of the Loch Ness Marathon for the 18th year running. The event continues to reflect the company’s commitment to supporting the local community and providing food full of goodness to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.

"We are delighted to have been part of the event from the beginning, working with and supporting the team to help make the Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running the world-class event it is today. Well done to all the runners who took part in this year’s races!"

Some runners dressed to impress.
Some runners dressed to impress.

Paul Bush, VisitScotland director of events, said: “A huge congratulations to all the runners who have taken part in this year’s races and marathon. Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running is a real highlight of the Scottish running calendar, and we are delighted to have supported this world- class event once again.

“Scotland is the perfect stage for sporting events, and Baxters’ has made a fantastic impact to the Highlands, notably drawing a significant number of visitors from overseas, while showcasing the region’s spectacular landscape.”

Early bird entry for the 2020 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running, which takes place on October 4 is now open at www.lochnessmarathon.com

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