Scotland’s newest marathon route, the Loch Ness 360° trail, will welcome runners from all over the world for the first time in 2020. Combining stunning views and challenging terrain, it’s going to be a race to remember. As it is brand new, we thought you might like a few marathon running tips from local runners who know the route, and can give you a few tips to prepare for the run.
Now, there are three marathon routes in total to be run over three days. You can enter one, two or all three marathons.
Route 1 is from Dores to Drumnadrochit. This is the best marathon to enter if trail running is new to you and are looking for a challenge or wish to try something new.
Route 2 is from Drumnadrochit to Fort Augustus. This is a testing route, and by far the most challenging. It should only be attempted by experienced and confident trail runners.
Route 3 is from Fort Augustus back to Dores. The challenge level of this route sits in between the first two. It’s great for experienced runners who want to enjoy both a challenging trail and the scenic view.
Tips for running Marathon 1 – Dores to Drumnadrochit
This marathon is the best one to run if you have never attempted trail running before, but want to give yourself a challenge. And the challenge begins straightaway, as this section almost immediately takes you steeply uphill. This won’t be something you’re used to if you have only previously run on flat roads. Our advice is to make sure you’re fully warmed up before starting, and take this part easy. Shooting off at top speed from the starting gun will only see you suffer soon down the line.
This route takes you into Inverness city centre, running safely on the pavement here. After a couple of miles through this beautiful city, you will rejoin the Great Glen Way and head towards Craig Dunain Hill. Here you will meet another rise, this time of around 700 feet. This is a nice section of the trail where you will run through wild woods.
When you come out, you’ll have a couple of miles on a road, then enter some more woods. It’s a great way to finish, as you’ll have a steep descent down towards Drumnadrochit.
If you are planning on running this route, don’t expect to match – or come anywhere near – your usual road-running marathon times. This is a completely different type of race. The best training to do in advance is to practice running on hills. Get out on rough ground when you’re training to get a feel for the ground beneath you.
As with all our routes, there are cutoff points and aid stations all the way. Make sure you take advantage of these, and the energy drinks and food too.
This is a challenging, but do-able, route for your first trail run. Good luck!
Tips for running Marathon 2 – Drumnadrochit to Fort Augustus
This is, by far, the hardest marathon of all three. There’s a total ascent of 1,250 metres, and it doesn’t give up. There’s a sharp rise from Drumnadrochit before heading towards the Great Glen Way. There aren’t any road sections for around 9 miles as you head towards Invermoriston.
You’ll run across what’s known as the “High Route”, and as you can imagine it’s quite a climb to get there. The views are worth it though, and this section gives you a true sense of running in the wilderness. But it is testing, so don’t lose focus.
There’s a sharp descent coming up towards Invermoriston, but then you’re running uphill straight away again. This is going to be your slowest mile on the whole section. When we said there’s no respite on this route, we meant it! However, once you get over this mile, you’ll be treated to fantastic views again.
Fort Augustus is where you will end up, but it’s not going to be as easy as you hoped. Once you get here, there are a few more miles to run along the River Oich before, finally, finishing at Morag’s Lodge and earning a good rest.
Make no mistake, this route is a big challenge. But if you succeed, you’ll be one of the first to have accomplished this marathon section of the Loch Ness 360° trail.
Tips for running Marathon 3 – Fort Augustus to Dores
The challenge level of this route sits in between the first two, in that it is achievable for casual yet experienced trail runners.
You’ll start a little uphill from Fort Augustus, and head out onto perhaps the most scenic and varied of the routes. Ranging from very high quality to more basic paths, you’ll enjoy stunning views over Loch Ness.
As you wind your way towards Foyers, you’ll first need to run up to the highest point of the whole trail: The Suidhe. You can then look forward to a 7km climb up towards the Fair Haired Lad’s Pass. All in all, there is approximately 1000m of ascent on this section, but the final stretch towards Dores is, fortunately, mostly downhill.
Choose your marathon!
Whatever you choose – some or all of the marathons – you’ll have a great experience with us. The views are going to be unlike anything you’ve run before, and the feeling when you cross that finish line will be one of the best yet.
For more information on the challenge and how to enter, visit our overview.