A LOSSIEMOUTH ATHLETE will enjoy an exceptionally special moment when she crosses the finish line at the Baxters’ Loch Ness Marathon this year.
That is because when Sarah-Louise Grigor finishes the 26.2miles she will continue running – straight into the arms of her partner and fellow runner Chris Cull as the couple get married immediately after the run!
And Sarah has chosen her moment well – as crossing that line on September 24 will also mark the remarkable achievement by a remarkable 47-year-old – her 100th Marathon.
“I know that brides are traditionally late for the wedding, but hopefully we’ll be able to keep up a decent pace so that I don’t leave Chris waiting too long,” personal trainer Sarah-Louise said, adding: “We are aiming to complete it in around four-and-a-half hours, but the most important thing is that we cross the line together.
“The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon holds very special memories for me. It was my first marathon, and it was where I was truly bitten by the running bug. It was also my 10th marathon and this year will be my 10th time running it.”
Over the years Sarah Louise has taken part in marathons – and ultra-marathons – all over the world, from Tokyo to New York and the Sahara Desert to the Swiss Alps.
She pointed out, however, that none have been a match for the Highlands: “There is nowhere quite like Loch Ness and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather chalk up my 100th marathon.
“The scenery is breath taking and it is one of the friendliest events I’ve ever been to. That final few miles as you run along the river and into Inverness are the perfect finish – you’ve ran 20-odd miles in beautiful countryside in relative solitude and then the crowds build and you can see the timing gantry so it suddenly becomes like a big city race.”
For soon to be husband Chris, 49, it will be the first time on the Loch Ness course – and to complete a family treble, there will also be a first-run for Sarah’s 17-year-old daughter Bethany!
Despite her ‘novice’ status at the marathon distance, Bethany is expected to finish half an hour or so ahead of the happy couple – giving her plenty of time to don her bridesmaids dress.
Chris says, “I’ve run quite a few marathons, but for some reason I’ve never made it to Loch Ness. Sarah always talks about how amazing the course is and what a great atmosphere there is, and I know that it holds a very special place in her heart.
“When Sarah told me she was aiming to make the 2017 race the one that would take her into the 100 Marathon Club, I wanted to do something that would make it even more memorable and special for her. That’s when I suggested that we have the wedding afterwards.
“So many of our friends are runners and they will be there taking part, so it seemed perfect. The hotel where we are holding the wedding is on the last mile of the marathon course: I think it will just add to the occasion to exchange our vows while overlooking the course and watching the runners head for home.”
Organisers are helping Sarah toast her 100th marathon in the event village at Bught Park in Inverness, where participants in the other races on the day – the River Ness 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and Wee Nessie fun run for pre-schoolers – will also complete their events.
After cutting a celebration cake and raising a toast to Sarah’s incredible achievement, the wedding party will ditch their shorts and running vests for their party finery. But there will be one piece of running kit which they will be holding onto for the wedding.
Sarah explained: “I can barely walk in heels at the best of times, but there is no way that I would even be able to think about hobbling down the aisle in a pair of stilettos after running 26.2 miles. I will be wearing trainers with my wedding dress – and I suspect that there may be one or two guests who will follow my lead.”
Details and entries for all races are available online now at www.lochnessmarathon.com and there is an early bird discount for those who sign up before March 1.