The bumper cash prizes being offered in this year’s Global Energy Inverness half marathon, which takes place on Sunday March 11th, are tempting top runners from all over Britain to make the journey North.
The first man and woman will earn cheques for £1,000, making this one of the most lucrative events on the Scottish road running circuit.
Organiser Malcolm Sutherland is confident that the huge cash awards will improve interest in the sharp end of the race.
He said: “The £1,000 is a tremendous incentive for the leading runners and we hope this will attract a top quality field.
“We have a new sponsor this year, the Global Energy Group, and they wanted to put forward a major prize for the men’s and women’s winners.
“It’s certainly the most lucrative winning prize to be offered in the 28 year history of the race.”
Scottish international Andrew Douglas (Inverclyde AC) has already confirmed he’ll be back to defend the men’s title he won last year while top UK masters runner Melissa Whyte (Inverness Harriers) says she’ll try to complete a hat-trick of wins in the women’s contest.
Douglas is looking forward to the challenge and admits the big prize will add a bit of spice to the occasion.
He said: “I’ll be kicking off my road racing season at Inverness as I did last year, but the big prize money does make it that bit more exciting.”
Whyte is also relishing facing up to the higher level of competition she anticipates facing this year.
She said: “I’m sure the prize money will attract some better runners which will be good for the race and will, hopefully, inspire us all to run quicker times.”
Interest is being expressed from a number of other top runners from both north and south of the border.
Commonwealth Games marathon man Martin Williams (Tipton Harriers) hasn’t ruled out heading north to compete at Inverness as part of his preparations for the London marathon and Olympic trial.
And Ben Livesey of Birchfield Harriers, who won the Inverness race in 2006 and 2010 when he was based near Forres, has said that some of his team-mates at the powerful Midlands club may be keen to compete.
Scottish marathon and 10Km champion Ross Houston (Central AC) is also keen to run and Great Britain mountain running international Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) is also interested.
A field of 1,800 runners is expected to take part in the half marathon with a further 1,000 in the accompanying 5Km fun run and Team Attack.
The Team Attack is a new event which is open to business teams, each made up of four people. The team with the lowest cumulative time will win.
Entries are being taken up until February 22nd at: www.invernesshalfmarathon.co.uk