Jordanian runner Mohammad Abu-Rezeq is the latest big name to sign up for the Baxters Loch Ness marathon and festival of running which takes place on Sunday 25th September.
Places are still available for Scottishathletics members, members of affiliated UK running clubs, overseas runners, and through official charity Macmillan Cancer Support and other affiliate charities – but only until midnight on Monday 5th September.
Abu-Rezeq, who has lived in Altrincham for the past five years since moving from his homeland, will be making his full marathon debut in the Highlands, but the 32 year-old has made a name for himself in 10Km and half marathons over the past few seasons. This will be his second appearance in Scotland this year, having won the
Alloa half marathon in April when he posted a time of 65min 40secs. If he can translate that sort of form into the marathon, then he will be difficult to beat.
The Lancashire-based runner was encouraged to take part in the Loch Ness race by his friend and training partner Tarus Elly who won last year’s marathon. Abu-Rezeq said: “Tarus told me it is a good course and I’d have a great chance of running a fast time. I want to do well in my first marathon so I decided this was the one I should do. I think Tarus is also going to run this year so it will be a good race.”
But, can Abu-Rezeq challenge the course record of 2hr 20min 13secs set by Kenya’s Simon Tonui in 2009? He said: “My main aim is to get first place in the race. I ‘d like to run 2hrs 17min or 2:18, but it depends on the race and how things go. My training has been going well and everything is aimed at running that sort of time.”
Abu-Rezeq was used to running barefoot in road races in Jordan but don’t expect to see him doing that in the Highlands. He said: “I’ve done it once here but that’s only because I couldn’t get shoes that suited me. I wear shoes all the time now.”
Stirling’s Jen Wetton is the leading entrant so far for the women’s marathon but it’s expected other top names will sign up before the deadline. The Central AC runner set what was a women’s course record of 2hr 46min 10secs when winning the Scottish title at Loch Ness in 2014. Her record was broken twelve months ago,however, by Fife AC’s Megan Crawford who ran 2:44:50 but she hasn’t confirmed whether she’ll return this year.
This will be Wetton’s first marathon since her victory in 2014. Injuries have plagued her career since then but she has now returned to full fitness and earlier this year she set a course record time in the Balmoral 10km race. More recently she was Scotland’s leading finisher in the Frank Duffy Dublin 10 mile international road race in which she finished fourth.
The race boasts a generous prize kitty with £1,500 on offer for the first man and woman to complete the course while further cash prizes are available for the top five finishers. There’s also generous awards for leading masters runners in the over-40, 50 and 60 age divisions. Cash awards go to the top three men and women in the Baxters River Ness 10Km with voucher awards to the leading three over-40,50 and 60 age group men and women.
Race Director Malcolm Sutherland is delighted that runners of the quality of Abu-Rezeq and Wetton have decided to come to the Baxters Loch Ness marathon but emphasises that the event caters for all levels of ability and experience.
He said: “It’s brilliant that an athlete of the calibre of Mohammad has chosen our race for his debut and that Jenn has decided to make her comeback here. But we also welcome thousands of others whether they are experienced runners or relative novices. They are all treated the same way and they’ll all experience a wonderful Highland reception.”
The Baxters Loch Ness marathon is the premier event on the race day programme but the festival also includes other attractive runs catering for a wide range of ages and levels of experience.
Sutherland explained: “We try to offer something for all sectors of the running community. In addition to the marathon we have the Baxters River Ness 10Km, including a Corporate Challenge for teams. We also have the Baxters River Ness 5Km fun run, and the Wee Nessie children’s run which are always popular.
“There’s a superb atmosphere at the races with huge number of people turning out to watch and cheer on the competitors, particularly at the finish in Bught Park where the Event Village is located. As usual there will be plenty of activities at the Village to keep everyone entertained and there is always a fantastic atmosphere around the finish area.
“But there’s not much time left for anyone to join in. Final entries will close at midnight on 5th September and we definitely cannot accept any applications after that date.”
Full details at www.lochnessmarathon.com