Houston Looks to Complete Highland Double at Inverness

The 33 year-old Central AC club member, who won the national marathon title in the Highland capital last September, is gearing up for April's London Marathon in which he'll be chasing the Commonwealth qualifying standard of 2hr 19min.

Houston believes the Inverness Half Marathon will provide him with the top quality competition he needs in order to sharpen up for the London race.

He said: "I've never been able to do the Inverness Half Marathon before so I'm looking forward to it. It will definitely be part of my build up to London and I'm sure there will be a good quality field taking part."

Houston is currently struggling with a back injury, but aims to be back in action before too long.

He said: "It's quite painful at the moment and I haven't been able to run for about a week, but I'm getting treatment so hopefully it will clear up quickly. If all goes to plan I'll be running for Central AC in the European clubs championships in Spain next month. After that I'll be doing the national cross country championships, then Inverness."

Houston has a best half marathon time of 65min 50secs recorded when finishing second at Lillebaelt in Denmark last year.

That's just 50secs slower than the time set by Newcastle-based Ethiopian Yared Hagos when winning last year's Inverness race.

Great Britain mountain running international Joe Symonds has also confirmed he'll be in the starting line-up for this year’s event.

Other top runners are expected to sign up soon for the race which offers an attractive prize kitty topped by the £1,000 on offer to the top man and woman.

Race Director Malcolm Sutherland said: "Ross Houston was a popular winner of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon last autumn so it will be interesting to see if he can complete the double by winning the half marathon as well. There's no doubt he'll face some good quality opposition with Joe Symonds and others in the line-up. It seems certain that we will have another exciting race to look forward to."

The half marathon, which is expected to attract more than 2,500 participants of all ages and levels of experience, also features a team competition with prizes for the first three men's clubs and the first two women's sides.

Two other races will be held in conjunction with the half marathon, each of which will attract big numbers of enthusiastic participants.

The 5K Team Attack, first introduced in 2011, is expected to prove popular again this year. It is open to clubs, businesses, or even groups of friends who can enter teams of four. Prizes will be based on the cumulative time of the four runners.

And the 5K Fun Run, open to individuals, is also expected generate a lot of interest.

The Archie Foundation is the official race charity. 

Entries for the Half Marathon, 5Km and Team Attack can all be made by visiting http://www.invernesshalfmarathon.co.uk/