Salford's Tomas Abyu and Dumfries athlete Lisa Finlay have pledged to defend their respective titles at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon on Sunday, September 30. Confirmation of both athletes participation will be viewed as a further boost for this year's event, which looks set to attract 9,000 runners.
Abyu, a Great Britain international, has enjoyed considerable success in the race with three victories - two consecutive - and will be vying to surpass the current course record of 2:20:13. The Salford Harriers' member attracted attention for recording two identical times of in 2010 and 2011 in his previous two victories.
Finlay, from Dalbeattie, set a personal best time of 2:59:06 when winning last year's women's title and will no doubt be looking to replicate her performance in September. In last month's Rock n Roll half marathon in Edinburgh, the Dumfries runner secured fourth position with a time of 1:23:31. Both Abyu and Finlay, along with the other leading runners, will be looking to pocket the £1,500 for first place, part of a prize kitty that totals £6,100.
Race director Malcolm Sutherland says these recent developments only add to the global reputation the Loch Ness race is building: "Baxters Loch Ness marathon and festival of running is a notable fixture on the international running calendar with the scenic beauty of the area and the legend of the Loch Ness monster proving a major attraction for runners from around the world."
On this year's turnout, Malcolm continued: "We are expecting over 9,000 runners this year, and hope that many people who have only ever run in city marathons will accept our invitation to come and experience the difference of running the scenic country roads around Loch Ness."
You can enter the Loch Ness Marathon by visiting the event website.