Beautiful Highland scenery attracts many to the Baxters Loch Ness marathon

Jo Anselin Loch Ness 2017

French adventure runner Josephine Anselin (handicap 19.8), isn’t a big fan of road racing but she’ll make an exception to take part in the Baxters Loch Ness marathon to be held on 24th September.

The Aberdeen-based drilling engineer is to join thousands of runners who will enjoy the spectacular scenery of an event which starts high on the wild moorland between Fort Augustus and Foyers then drops down to hug the shores of Loch Ness before finishing in front of enthusiastic crowds in the bustling Highland capital of Inverness.

Few, if any, of those taking part, however, can claim to have matched the amazing endurance achievements of Anselin who recently returned from the southern hemisphere where she completed an epic 3,000 kilometre run from one end of New Zealand to the other.

Carrying her own food, drinks, a small tent and minimal clothing, she took 99 days to complete the journey from Cape Reinga on the North Island to Bluff on the South Island along the Te Araroa Trail.

Anselin admits to having experienced a wide range of emotions during the three months of navigating through dense forests, scrambling over precipitous mountains and running along beautiful beaches.

She said:"It was an amazing experience and I had a few ups and downs and not everything went to plan. On the first day of bad weather everything I was carrying got absolutely soaked. I thought my pack was waterproof, but it wasn't. My sleeping bag was soaken and so was my tent. It was terrible. I thought I was going to get hypothermia. Fortunately, the next morning the weather was fine and everything dried out, but I quickly bought a liner to keep everything dry.

"I got lost on a few occasions because the track wasn't always very easy to find, especially in some dense forests. On one occasion I had to retrace my steps until I got back to a route marker. Some parts were very muddy and sometimes I was up to my knees, which made progress very slow and hard work."

"There were so many highlights but I think the best moment was camping at the top of a hill watching the sunset one evening then watching it rise again in the morning. It was so beautiful, so peaceful, so quiet. On another occasion I was running along a ridge. The views were amazing and the sense of freedom and being close to nature gave me goosebumps."

There was no major welcoming party when Anselin finally reached Bluff at the southernmost point of the country, but that didn't in any way detract from the experience. She said: "The only people there were a Japanese family and when I told them what I had done the woman gave me two origamis. That was nice."

Anselin intends to compete in a number of other races this year but her only planned outing on the roads will be for the Baxters Loch Ness marathon.

She explained why: “I really love trail running but I'm doing the Baxters Loch Ness marathon because I have heard it's a great event.  Although it’s on the roads, it takes you through some beautiful scenery and that’s what attracts me. I know quite a lot of people who have done it and they told me I would love it. It’s also a good time of year to run a marathon, as it comes at the end of the summer. There are so many marathons in the spring, but not so many in this country at that time of year.

“I’ll be going there with a group of friends and we’ll all take part. It’s good that there’s also a 10km so some of our group who maybe aren’t ready for the marathon can run in the shorter race.”

For anyone keen to join Anselin, guaranteed marathon entry is available until 1st July.  After that date, and until 4th September, entries will only be available for overseas runners, Scottish Athletics members, members of affiliated UK running clubs, overseas runners, and through official race charities.

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.

Race Director Malcolm 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, the Baxters River Ness 5Km fun run, and the Wee Nessie children's run.

“This is the 16th year of the marathon and thousands of runners enjoy the occasion.

There’s also a huge number of people who turn out to watch the races, 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.”

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