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Baxters Loch Ness Marathon halted over pandemic challenges

By Lorna Thompson

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THIS autumn's Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running has been halted.

Organisers Caledonian Concepts today announced the cancellation of the 2020 event due to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The event had been scheduled to take place on October 4.

Established in 2002, the event attracted a record 9,500 participants in 2019, with 60 per cent of marathon runners coming from outside Scotland and 17% from overseas. The event also raised more than £1 million for charity last year.

The decision was made based on safety concerns following talks with partner agencies, sponsors, stakeholders and runners during lockdown.

Uncertainty over travel restrictions was also a factor in the call-off.

All those with a place in the 2020 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running will automatically be transferred to the 2021 event, scheduled to take place on October 3 next year. All participants have been contacted by email today.

Participants on their marks for the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon. Picture: Liam Anderstrem.
Participants on their marks for the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon. Picture: Liam Anderstrem.

Malcolm Sutherland, event and race director, said: "It has been a difficult decision and not one we have taken lightly. However, the health, safety and welfare of our participants, volunteers, staff, charities and stakeholders is at the heart of everything we do and will always remain our priority.

"The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon is a highlight of the UK running calendar with one of the most spectacular marathon routes in the world and has also gained a reputation as one of the most memorable. We pride ourselves on offering a very special Highland experience and we are concerned this would be lost were we to stage the event with all the necessary physical distancing measures and other restrictions in place.

"Instead, we will put our efforts into ensuring the 2021 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running is an outstanding experience for everyone.

"We also understand the many weeks of training required to prepare for this event, that many of you will be starting your 12-week training programme and many are fundraising for charity. We will therefore be working with our partner charities – Macmillan Cancer Support, Alzheimer Scotland, Cancer Research UK and the Highland Hospice and a host of other charities – to maximise fundraising in 2021.

"We really hope those due to take part this year will join us in 2021 – we can’t wait to see you then."

Fochabers-based Baxters has been title sponsor of the Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running since 2002.

Audrey Baxter, its executive chairman and group CEO, said: "All of us at Baxters are saddened that this year’s event has to be cancelled.

"We do, however, know it is the correct decision to make to protect the health and safety of everyone involved. I hope everyone who had planned to take part in the event this year can join us in 2021 for a warm welcome back and, as always, a well-deserved treat from Baxters on the finish line."

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