Livingston and Crawford praise Loch Ness atmosphere after securing impressive marathon victories

Stuart Livingstone Loch Ness

Stuart Livingstone became the first Scottish men's winner of the Baxters Loch Ness marathon for nine years when he sped to victory in a personal best time of 2:32:21.

Livingstone (handicap -2.8), an Edinburgh-based energy consultant, who was competing in his sixth marathon, slashed more than four minutes off his previous best, set at London in 2019, on a day when major road racing made a welcome return to the Highlands after an 18 month hiatus.

Welshman Geraint Williams was runner-up in 2:35:06 and Chris Poxton (handicap 0.1) finished third overall, first in the over-40 age group, in 2:36:03.  John Beveridge (handicap 2.7) was first over-50 in 2:57:20. 

Livingstone said:"My training had gone well so I knew a good time was on, but winning was a bonus. It was only when I read a preview of the race, which suggested it could be wide open, that I felt I might have a chance.

"There was a group of five of us together for the first 10 miles, then me and the Welsh guy got away from the others. But at 15 miles I began to get a gap on him so I pushed on. It was only when we turned back towards the finish, at the river, that I could relax a bit when I saw the lead I had.

"It's the first time I've done this race but it's one I've always wanted to do. It's the same day as the London marathon, but the experience couldn't be more different. I was surprised by the level of support on the course, there was such a buzz. It was brilliant.

"To be honest I prefer running 10ks but now I might have to defend my title next year."

Megan Crawford (handicap 3.0) admits she was surprised to win the women's title for the third time in eight years with a come-from-behind victory.

The 32 year-old Edinburgh teacher, who also won in 2013 and 2015, was languishing well behind the leaders for the opening 10 miles but rallied to take top spot in 2:48:15.

She said:"I really wasn't expecting much today so I'm really happy with how it has turned out.

"I had toilet troubles until about halfway but then settled down. I could see Shona McIntosh (handicap 4.2) and Sheena Logan (handicap 2.6) ahead of me and I just tried to keep working towards them.

"I caught Shona at about 19 miles then passed Sheena between 20 and 21 miles. After that I put my head down and just went for it.

"I had always planned to do an autumn marathon and this was the one for me. Obviously, there was also London today but I'd rather have the hills and scenery this race offers.

"I've been training in the Pentland Hills with some lovely long runs, so that set me up for this one."

Crawford's Fife clubmate Logan, who won here in 2018 and was third in 2019, finished second in 2:51:32.

McIntosh,who was second in 2007, and third in 2014, couldn't complete her seven-year cycle with a gold, having to settle for third position in 2:52:01. Fifth-placed Carolyn Hay (handicap 5.1) was first over-40 in 2:59:44.

Scotland cross country international Sean Chalmers dominated the Baxters River Ness 10k with a commanding performance in which he led from gun to tape and complete the course in 30:15.

He said:"I realised it was very windy in the first 2k and I thought about tucking in, but felt the pace might be too slow. So, I decided to push on hard enough so that no-one would be able to sit in behind me.

Great Britain junior international Megan Keith (hamdicap -0.4) was an impressive winner of the women's race. The Edinburgh University sports science student recorded 34:22.

She said:"It was a tough one today, especially as I've just come back from Fresher's Week at the Uni.I wanted to start conservatively but after the first kilometre I got a bit isolated so I then probably went too fast to catch a group.

"But, I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Inverness crowd is just amazing.They really kept me going over the closing stages."