Great Britain mountain running international Joe Symonds is the first big name to sign up for the 2013 Global Energy Inverness half marathon.
Symonds, who won the North of Scotland cross country title at Evanton recently, has aspirations of representingScotlandin the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and he sees theInvernessrace, to be held on Sunday 17th March, as a key part of his preparations.
Scotland’s selectors have indicated that a time of faster than 2hr 19min will be needed to be considered for marathon selection, with all times recorded after 1st January 2013 being taken into account.
Symonds, 29, a member of Inverness Harriers, is expected to be one of a number of athletes with realistic hopes of chasing the qualifying standard.
He said:”I’m aiming to compete in the Rottedam marathon in April when I’m hoping to get a decent time.
“TheInvernesshalf marathon is about four weeks before that, so that would be the perfect opportunity for me to have the chance to run a quick half marathon as a good warm up.
“Hopefully there will be a good field atInvernessas that will make it easier for everyone to get a fast time.
“My best at the moment is 67min 34sec, but I’ll need to run much quicker than that.”
Symonds and the other elite athletes will be chasing the £1,000 prize on offer to the first man and woman in theInvernessrace.
Newcastle-based Ethiopian Yared Hagos won last year’s prize when defeating more than 2,000 runners to win in 1hr 5min while his compatriot Hana Abo won the women’s award when recording 1:15:04.
It’s not known yet whether either will return to defend their titles.
Race Director Malcolm Sutherland is delighted that theInvernessrace is being supported by top runners such as Symonds.
He said:”It’s great that Joe sees the Global Energy Inverness half marathon as playing an important part in his bid for Commonwealth Games selection.
“We hope that a number of others with similar aspirations will join us for what’s sure to be another top class contest.
“But we give an equally enthusiastic welcome to runners of all levels of ability and experience.
“We expect more than 2,500 runners to sign up for the race and I’m sure they will all enjoy the day.”
The half marathon also features a team competition with prizes for the first three men’s clubs and the first two women’s sides.
Discounts on entry fees are offered to Scottish club runners entering a group of 10 or more competitors.
Two other races will be held in conjunction with the half marathon, each of which will attract big numbers of enthusiastic participants.
The 5K Team Attack, first introduced in 2011, is expected to prove popular again this year.
It is open to clubs, businesses, or groups of friends who can enter teams of four. Prizes will be based on the cumulative time of the four runners.
And the 5K fun run, open to individuals, is also expected generate a lot of interest .
The Archie Foundation, which makes a difference to the lives of sick children throughout theHighlandsand the North East of Scotland, is the official race charity.
Entries for the half marathon, 5Km and Team Attack can all be made by visiting www.invernesshalfmarathon.co.uk