The Inverness half marathon has received a major boost by being chosen to host the 2016 Scottish North District championships.
The race through the Highland capital on 13 March is expected to attract around 2,000 competitors and for north-based members of Scottishathletics there is now the added bonus of being able to compete for championship medals. The top three senior men and women will receive awards as well as the top three in the over-40 and over-50 age groups.
John Newsom (Inverness Harriers), who was third in the 2015 Inverness half marathon, is the reigning North men’s champion, having won the title in the Glen Moray race at Elgin in September, while Leigh Strachan (Peterhead AAC) is the women’s title-holder. It is hoped both will take part again this year.
Inverness Race Director Malcolm Sutherland is delighted to be hosting the championships and has decided to offer a couple of bonus prizes. He said: “It’s fantastic that we’ll be holding the North championships. I think this is the first time our race has been given this honour and it will certainly add to the excitement on the day. As an added incentive for the leading runners we are offering a free place in the Baxters Loch Ness marathon, to be held on 25th September, to the first man and woman in the North championships.”
Scottish North District Road Running and Cross Country official Sophie Dunnett said:
“I was delighted with the offers we received to host our four championship events for 2016 which will start with the half marathon at Inverness in March.
This will be followed by the 10km championships at Benromach, Forres in May then the 10 mile championships at Nairn in June and the year will be rounded off with a return to Knockfarrel for the hill championships in November.”
The 2015 Inverness open race champions, Tewolde Mengisteab (Shettleston Harriers) who recently made his Scotland international debut in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10km, and Shona McIntosh (Hunters Bog Trotters), have confirmed they will defend their respective men’s and women’s titles in next year’s race. Mengisteab won in 66:48 while McIntosh recorded 76:43.
Glasgow-based Polish runner Kamil Sieracki is another top athlete to have made an early commitment to compete at Inverness. The 22 year-old, who has represented his country at under-23 level in the European cross country championships, moved to Scotland last year to take up a post with an IT company in East Kilbride. Sieracki joined Shettleston Harriers in July and trains with Mengisteab. He ran his personal best half marathon time of 66:44 at the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow in October when he helped his club win the Scottish team title.
Sutherland is thrilled by the prospect of Sieracki joining what already is shaping up to be a top class field. He said: “We have welcomed a lot of top class runners in recent years and there’s no doubt they have added some spice to the front end of both the men’s women’s races. That looks sure to continue in 2016 and it will be intriguing to see how Kamil fares against the others.
“While it’s great to see athletes of this calibre competing in our race we also welcome runners of all levels of experience and ability. There’s a great feel about the event because of the wide range of different people taking part. It’s a truly fun occasion.
“For those who don’t feel up to tackling a half marathon we also have a 5km fun run. This has proved very popular in recent years and is open to runners of all ages including youngsters if they are accompanied by an adult. Wheelchairs are also welcome. Schools, clubs and disability groups are welcome to enter teams to run the 5km Fun Run and receive reduced entry fees. “
Anyone wanting to take part in either of the races can enter online at www.invernesshalfmarathon.co.uk. Closing date for entries is 23rd February.