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Inverness 1/2 marathon race report by James Barnet

This was my 3rd Inverness half marathon and it’s definitely one of my favourites. With 99 metres (325 ft) of elevation gain around the course, it’s a pretty fast route. The race is a big fixture on many runner’s racing calendar, typically attracting a couple of thousand runners, with 2230 finishers in 2024. Luckily, the race is also chip timed, as it takes a little time to cross the start line if you’re not standing right at the front of the queue. Inverness half normally draws in a big contingent from DRR but as it had been replaced by Alloa half in the grand prix for 2024, the DRR contingent this year was comparatively small.

A cold and fairly strong easterly airflow had dominated in the days leading up to the race, as Scotland was sandwiched between low pressure bringing very wet weather to England and high pressure centred to the north. Despite concerns of the easterly winds being an issue in the race, it turned out that the route was fairly sheltered from that direction and there was only a headwind in a few fairly brief sections. The weather was cold (5-6c) and cloudy, which coupled with the shelter from the easterly wind, provided the ideal conditions for some strong times.

The race starts at Bucht Park and initially heads north towards the main centre of Inverness along the western bank of the River Ness. A bridge is then crossed, before heading south along the eastern bank of the river for several miles. Most of this section is fast and flat, with a good opportunity to get into a good rhythm and set a strong pace. The main issue was congestion in the first couple of miles due to the sheer volume of runners, before it eventually thinned out. Most of this section was sheltered from the easterly breeze, although there is a short out and back section just after mile 3, where the wind was briefly in our faces. 

The route starts to climb around mile 4 on the main road, before runners turn off left and climb a bit more through attractive forest on a quiet country road. The bulk of the elevation gain is achieved over miles 4 and 5, which is nice to get it out of the way early. These were my two slowest miles of the race as I paced myself, ready to blast off at the top.

The route then heads back towards the southern part of Inverness, initially on paths by the side of a main road before heading off through housing estates. I really picked up the pace through this section and started to ruthlessly pass one runner after another. It felt great! There is one more kick up around mile 9, probably the steepest hill on the course, but it doesn’t go on too long.

A fantastic fast downhill then follows between mile 9 and 10, where you can pick up considerable pace, before returning to the fast flat outbound section along the banks of the River Ness. This section really seemed to drag on compared to early in the race but I felt strong and continued to pick off people in front.

Runners then head back through where they started and follow a long loop round the outside of Bucht Park to finish on a track in the stadium. Transitioning from tarmac to springy track felt fantastic and I mustered up the energy to finish with a sprint and pass another two ahead of me before the finish line to finish in 1hr21mins49secs and comfortably secure my gold standard. The small DRR turnout included Hannah, who achieved her second silver standard in a row while pregnant, Hector, the two Michael’s (Mitchell and Royden) and Laura McMahon who achieved an 8 minute PB!!

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