A MODERN-day battle of the Clans is to take place on the banks of Loch Ness.
The iconic landmark will host runners from all over the world who are pledging their allegiance to their clan, going toe-to-toe for the 2014 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.
Scots, ex-pats and runners with Scottish ancestry are being invited to take part in the Clan Challenge and show who has the fastest feet in the Highlands.
From Macdonalds to Macraes and Camerons to Campbells, dozens of clans will be represented in both the marathon and accompanying River Ness 10K on September 28.
The Clan Challenge has been introduced as part of the national celebrations from the Year of Homecoming Scotland 2014 and will be determined by the number of runners from each clan who successfully complete either race.
Race director Malcolm Sutherland says he hopes that proud Scots from all over the world will decide to take part, and wear a touch of tartan on their running kit.
He adds, “We are urging Scots at home and abroad or anyone with an affinity to Scotland to come and help push their clan to victory.
“Last year we had runners from all over the UK and 30 different countries participate in the Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running, and we hope that the Clan Challenge will see even greater numbers come forward this year.
“It’s a fantastic day for both serious runners and those taking part in their first mass participation event and the atmosphere is always electric. We hope that the added element of the Clan Challenge will add to the feel-good factor.
“The crowd support is always superb and we would urge those who are not taking part to get out onto the course and help cheer their clan home towards the finish line in Inverness.”
The day’s race programme includes the marathon, River Ness 10K, a 10K corporate challenge, 5K and the Wee Nessie run for children. Guaranteed entry for the marathon closes on July 1 with charity, club and overseas runner places available thereafter. Entry for all other races is open until September 8.
Over 9,000 people took part in last year’s Festival of Running – raising over £800,000 for various charities – and were joined by thousands more spectators at the event village and finish line in the centre of Inverness.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “The Loch Ness Marathon in September is a fantastic opportunity for runners to enjoy the beautiful scenery and iconic landscape that the local area has to offer.
“The Marathon will also celebrate Scottish ancestry, with Scots from home and abroad to represent their family in the Clan Challenge.
“The Year of Homecoming in 2014 is a unique opportunity to encourage more visitors, both international and domestic to come and enjoy Scotland.”