Runners Sarah-Louise Grigor and Chris Cull took their race day celebrations a step further than most today (Sunday, 24 September) – by getting married just hours after crossing the finish line together at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.
The popular Highland running event – which attracts runners from across the globe – marked the 100th marathon for Sarah (47) from Lossiemouth, bringing her back to the race that sparked her passion for distance running in 2003. New husband Chris (49) and daughter Bethany (18), crossed the finish line in Inverness’ Bught Park for the first ever time. Following their marathon effort, Sarah and Chris exchanged vows in a hotel overlooking the last mile of the course.
Sarah, Chris and Bethany joined thousands of runners who crossed the finish line in the marathon and accompanying 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge, 5K and Wee Nessie events – some of whom were also guests at the wedding. Known as one of the most scenic marathons in the world, runners from as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Hong Kong travelled to Inverness to take part.
Race director Malcolm Sutherland says, “We’d like to offer special congratulations to Sarah-Louise and Chris – by crossing the finish line together they kicked off their wedding day in style, and we wish them all the best for their married life.
”We are delighted to have once more welcomed thousands of runners to the Highlands for a weekend of unparalleled Scottish running. The atmosphere in the Event Village and out on the course has been electric, and the smiles on all the participants’ faces as they cross the finish line makes everything worthwhile.
“I’d like to congratulate all the runners taking part today – whether it was their first or sixteenth Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, we hope that they experienced the Highland hospitality that the event has become known for.
“Every year, we are bowled over by the support of the local community and the volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure the event run smoothly. We and the participants owe them a debt of gratitude for ensuring everyone had the best possible day.”
The marathon was won for the second year in a row by Mohammad Aburezeq from Altrincham in a time of 2:22:02, with the first female Lesley Pirie from Victoria Park Glasgow crossing the line in 2:48:10.
The first Highland resident home in the marathon was David Gallie from Highland Hill Runners in 2:56:29, who was presented with the HSPC Gerald Cooper Memorial Trophy, along with a £1,000 donation to a charity of his choice. Erica Christie of Cambuslang Harries also crossed the line in 3:12:52, breaking the UK women’s over-60 marathon record.
In the accompanying Baxters River Ness 10K, the winner was Kristian Jones from Swansea Harriers in 29:51, while the first female was Jenny Bannerman from Inverness Harriers in 35:15. There was also a Corporate Challenge within the 10K race, and this was picked up by Inverness College UHI Team 1 in a combined time of 2:39:27.
Audrey Baxter, executive chairman and group CEO of Baxters Food Group, says, “Congratulations to everybody who took part in the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. Baxters is delighted to continue to support this fantastic and inclusive event which encourages and celebrates the achievements of runners of all abilities.
Every year this event proves itself to be the highlight of the Scottish sporting calendar, a great day for running, and a great day for the community. Hope to see you all again next year."
Christina Brockmann-More, fundraising manager at Macmillan, adds, “Everyone at Macmillan would like to say a massive thank you to all the runners who supported us at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. We’re thrilled that once all donations are collected we look set to break our £75,000 fundraising target to help people living with cancer.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, says, “Congratulations to all the runners who’ve taken part in this year’s Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. The shores of Loch Ness provided the perfect stage for the races and it is great to see so many people taking part across all the distances.
“The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running is a truly fantastic event that showcases the beauty of the Highlands and attracts running enthusiasts from around the world. As a key part of Scotland’s events portfolio, EventScotland is proud to have been supporting the event for more than 10 years.”
Entry for the 2018 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running, which takes place on September 23, opens tomorrow, Monday, 25 September 2017. Find out more at www.lochnessmarathon.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/lochnessmarathon and on Twitter @nessmarathon – using the hashtag #RunLochNess.