Organisers of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running, Caledonian Concepts, have today announced the cancellation of the 2020 event due to the challenges posed by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Scheduled to take place on 4th October 2020, the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running incorporates the River Ness 10K, Corporate Challenge, 5K and Wee Nessie race.
Established in 2002, the event attracted a record 9,500 participants in 2019 with 60% of marathon runners coming from outside Scotland and 17% from overseas.
The cancellation is the first in the event’s 18-year history.
The event also raised over £1m for charity in 2019.
Following consultation with partner agencies, sponsors and stakeholders over the past few months during lockdown, the difficult decision was made based on the safety and welfare of all those involved in the event.
The team also conducted a survey of runners to better understand their thoughts and concerns.
The uncertainty over travel restrictions for the large number of participants who travel to Inverness and the Highlands from around the UK and abroad was also taken into account.
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 3rd October.
All participants have been contacted by email today with further information.
Commenting on the decision, Malcolm Sutherland, Event & Race Director of Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running, said:
“I would like to extend my thanks to all those signed up for the 2020 event for their patience and support during this uncertain and very challenging time.
“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.
“We feel it is our responsibility to protect everyone involved including our emergency services and local community which has always been so supportive.
“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.”
Audrey Baxter, Executive Chairman & Group CEO at Baxters, said:
“Having been the title sponsor of the Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running since it was established in 2002, 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!”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events, said:
“The decision to cancel this year’s Baxters Loch Ness Marathon is understandable in the current circumstances and we fully support their decision.
“We appreciate this has not been an easy decision for the organisers to make, however protecting the health and safety of athletes, staff, visitors and residents is of the upmost importance at this time.
“The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running is key part of our portfolio of events and will play a vital role in Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19.
“We look forward to supporting the organisers to welcome everyone back for the event in 2021.”