Miles and Monsters - Running the Loch Ness Marathon

May 17, 2024

Welcome, fellow adventurers, to the second installment of our marathon travel series!

Strap on your kilts and tune your bagpipes as we swap the tracksuits and cigarettes of the Balkans for a marathon adventure in Scotland. Dust off those passports and break in those running shoes, as this time, we journey to the land of myths and monsters for a marathon that promises breathtaking scenery and perhaps even a glimpse of the elusive Nessie. Yes, you guessed it right: we’re heading to the highlands for the Loch Ness Marathon!

We've picked this race for its unique blend of natural beauty, mythical lore, and a race atmosphere that feels like a cozy family gathering. Plus, let’s be honest, running 26.2 miles is much more appealing when there's the promise of spotting a legendary creature along the way.

Will the elusive Nessie make an appearance?

Scotland, Here We Come!

Next on our list is the enchanting Loch Ness Marathon, taking place every October along the shores of the iconic Scottish loch. Since its inception in 2002, the marathon has grown in popularity, drawing runners from around the globe. And why wouldn’t it? With a backdrop featuring the Scottish Highlands, this marathon is a feast for the eyes and the soul. And let's not forget the perfect running weather: cool, crisp, and just a bit mysterious, much like the loch itself.

The Marathon Route

You will have to get up an ungodly hour to be at Brought Park to catch a bus out to the starting line. The last bus leaves at 7.30am! After being shuttled out to the wilderness and acclimatising yourself (Ha good one!) the race begins at 9 AM sharp not far from the sleepy village of Whitebridge. You’ll be serenaded by the occasional bagpiper (or possibly a disoriented sheep) as you make your way to the starting line. From there, the course winds its way through the stunning Scottish countryside, with rolling hills that will make you question your existence, and views that will make it all worth it.

Aft mile 6ish if my memory is correct, you'll encounter the loch itself, its dark waters often shrouded in mist. Keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious looking ripples or rogue plesiosaurs. The route follows the southern shore of Loch Ness, providing endless scenic distractions as you tick off those miles. Around mile 20, you'll hit Dores, a quaint village where the locals might hand you a wee dram of whisky (though probably not the best idea mid-race).

The race concludes in Brought Park in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, where the sight of Inverness Castle marks the final stretch. As you cross the finish line by the River Ness, you might just hear Nessie's roar of approval—or perhaps that’s your own victory cry.

Kilts, Castles, and Cuisine: Post-Race Adventures

Once you’ve conquered the marathon and stowed away your running shoes, it’s time to dive into the Scottish culture. Start with a hearty post-race meal; forget the gels and protein bars—it’s all about haggis, neeps, and tatties now. If sheep stomach isn’t your thing (and try me I wouldn’t hold it against you), the Highland capital offers plenty of other culinary delights, from fresh seafood to decadent desserts like cranachan, which manages to mix cream, raspberries and whisky, it’s an alcoholic sweetooth’s dream! And if your sugar levels are still low, stock up on tablet, a Scottish delicacy made from made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter all of which is soft boiled into a chocolate bar consistency.

Must-Visit Spots

Congratulations, you've survived the Loch Ness Marathon! Now, as a reward, dive into the Scottish Highlands’ finest attractions. Whether you’re into historic castles, haunted battlefields, or just in desperate need of a whisky, we've got you covered. Here are the must-see sights to prove you didn't just come for the running (or the mythical monster).

Inverness Castle - Overlooking the city and the River Ness, this impressive castle offers stunning views and a peek into Scotland’s turbulent history. Perfect for a post-race photo op if your legs can manage it!

Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition - Delve into the lore of Nessie at this engaging exhibition. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, the centre’s blend of science and myth is fascinating.

Urquhart Castle - Perched on the edge of Loch Ness, these ruins tell tales of medieval conflict and grandeur. Plus, it’s another prime Nessie-spotting location.

Culloden Battlefield - A short drive from Inverness, this site marks the 1746 battle that changed British history. The visitor centre’s immersive displays are a must for history buffs.

Whisky Distilleries - No trip to Scotland is complete without a whisky tour. Visit one of the local distilleries such as Uilebheist Distillery to see how the ‘water of life’ is made, and enjoy a tasting session—preferably after the marathon.

Practical Information for Participants

Registration: This year’s marathon will take on September 29th. You can sign up now open here. Be quick, as spots fill up faster than you can say “Nessie”.

Getting There:

From Ireland: Fly directly to Inverness from Belfast. Unfortunately, Loganair no longer offers direct flights to Inverness from Dublin. However, you can fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh with either Ryanair or Aer Lingus and then make your way to Inverness via bus, train, or by renting a car. You can fly from Derry or Donegal to Glasgow Airport with Loganair and do the same.

From the US: Fly into London or Edinburgh, then hop on a connecting flight or enjoy a picturesque train journey to Inverness.

Accommodation: Inverness offers a range of options, from cozy B&Bs to luxury hotels. Consider staying near the city center for easy access to post-race festivities. Please bear in mind that accommodation will be charged at a premium for the weekend (supply and demand, eh?). Airbnb may provide some charming and affordable alternatives.


So, if you're yearning for a marathon that offers more than just a medal and sore legs, the Loch Ness Marathon is calling your name. Layer up, brave the Highlands, and maybe, just maybe, catch a glimpse of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Until then, happy running!

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