The Highlands was “buzzing” last night as more than 8,000 runners from around the world began to gather in the region for the Loch Ness marathon.
Competitors from as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Hong Kong were jetting in for the event, with dozens also arriving from the US, France and Germany.
As part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running on Sunday, they will take to the streets for the marathon, River Ness 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and Wee Nessie, for pre-school children.
Marathon runners will take in the stunning Great Glen scenery along the south Loch Ness route, with Bught Park in Inverness once again hosting the finish line and the event village.
Competitors and spectators can enjoy the entertainment at the free-to-enter venue, which will feature a sports expo and Baxters food and drink fayre.
And tonight, the village will also play host to the annual pasta party, where runners can banish any pre-race nerves while carb-loading, entering prize draws, and listening to guest speakers from the running industry.
Race director Malcolm Sutherland said everyone involved was looking forward to another successful event in the Highlands.
He added: “Inverness is buzzing ahead of the marathon this weekend, and already runners are arriving to take advantage of the Highland hospitality before they pull on their running shoes.
“The local community has really embraced the event over the last 16 years, and their support helps us create a memorable race for the thousands of runners who attend every year.
“We are also incredibly proud that so much money has been raised over the years to benefit so many charities and good causes, including our official charity – Macmillan Cancer Support – which hopes to raise in excess of £75,000 this year to help people living with cancer and their families.”
Audrey Baxter, executive chairman and chief executive officer of Baxters Food Group, said: “Over the last 16 years, the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon has grown to become one of the country’s best-loved sporting events and we are proud to be the title sponsor and involved since the very beginning.”
“Thousands of runners travel from around the world to experience the Highland countryside for themselves; it’s incredible. We wish everyone taking part this weekend the very best of luck.”