Places filling fast ahead of the 17th February entry deadline.
Scottish marathon champion Jenn Wetton is the latest top runner to commit to this year’s Inverness half marathon which is heading for a record number of participants.
Just over 1,700 runners completed last year’s race, but with entries remaining open until 17th February, close to 2,000 people have already signed up. The race, now in its 31st year, takes place on Sunday 8th March.
Wetton certainly enjoys competing in Inverness. Last year, when running under her maiden name of Jenn Emsley, she set her lifetime best half marathon time of 1hr 16min 59secs when finishing third behind Portobello’s Nicola Duncan who won in 1:23:27.
Wetton returned to the Highland capital last September when she produced another fine performance to win the Baxters Loch Ness marathon, and the Scottish title, by recording another lifetime best of 2hr 46min 6secs.
Now she’s gearing up for a third visit north and hopes it will prove to be as successful as her previous ones.
She said: “I’m really targetting the Inverness half marathon this year and I’m hoping I can improve on my best time which I set there last March.
“I have some friends who I visit in Inverness, so I was able to check out the course before I ran it last year. It’s definitely a good course and certainly one on which you can run fast times.
“My training has been going well over the winter so I hope to be able to run well. I’m doing a few Parkrun 5Kms before Inverness and I’ll also be competing in the Scottish cross country championships.
“It would be good if there were a few fast runners at the front of the race because that always helps produce fast times. Nicola Duncan did really well last year when winning. It’s a pity she has been injured for such a long time but it would be good if she was able to come back again in March.”
Shettleston’s Tewoldeberhan Mengisteab is the leading entrant so far for the men’s race. The Glasgow-based athlete has a best time of 1hr 5min 25secs set in 2011.
He was runner-up behind Ethiopian Yared Hagos in the 2012 Inverness half marathon when he recorded 1:06:59.
Race Director Malcolm Sutherland is pleased that top calibre runners such as Wetton and Mengisteab have pledged to compete again in March.
He said:”The race has always been popular with good quality runners who produce fast times here on a regular basis and I am are delighted that Jenn and Tewoldeberhan have chosen to return to Inverness.
“I am sure that a number of other top Scottish runners will be entering before the closing date.
“But we are also extremely happy that the race remains as popular as ever with runners of all levels of ability and experience.
“This is a race for everyone, from experienced international class athletes to people who are perhaps trying to complete the distance for the very first time. They will all be given a rousing Highland welcome when they take part.”
The half marathon offers an extensive prize list with cash awards to the first three men and women as well as voucher awards to the first men and women in the over-40, over-50 and over-60 age categories. There are team prizes for the first three men’s clubs and the first two women’s clubs, three runners to score in each. The first member of Inverness Harriers to complete the course will receive the Graeme Moffat Memorial Quaich.
The race day programme of events also includes a 5Km fun run for anyone who feels 13.1 miles is maybe a bit too far at this stage. Sutherland said: “The 5Km is very popular and attracts runners of all ages including wheelchair entrants and children accompanied by adults.”
Entries for the half marathon and 5Km close on 17th February. Full details can be found at www.invernesshalfmarathon.co.uk