THE new and improved route for the Stirling Scottish Marathon has been unveiled.

This year's sold-out marathon was the first-ever 26.2mile event in Stirling, and organisers announced last month that the event will return to the city with a new course and a new date for 2018.

Stirling's inaugural marathon reached capacity months before the event, with 6,500 people signing up for the run through the heart of Scotland in May, and organisers the Great Run Company have unveiled the new route for the marathon which takes place on Sunday, 29 April.

Following constructive feedback from runners, a new and improved course has been designed which will showcase the beautiful scenery and historic landmarks of central Scotland, starting and finishing in the city centre.

Starting in the city centre near to the imposing Stirling Castle, runners will make their way along the A84, picking up the 2017 route from Blair Drummond Safari Park towards Doune.

Crossing the historic Bridge of Teith, the route continues through Doune into Dunblane. Both communities turned out in their thousands to support the runners as they made their way during 2017's event.

The route then follows the old A9, entering Bridge of Allan, then on to the University of Stirling where runners will complete a loop of the campus, rejoining Airthrey Road, passing the Wallace Monument.

A new section of the course will take in a long, scenic loop along Hillfoots Road through Blairlogie, close to Tullabody, before picking up the 2017 route into the Springkerse area, along the riverside and in to the city centre.

Runners were given a rapturous reception on Murray Place as they passed the Thistles Centre and it will be the same again in 2018 with the route heading through the city centre then finishing alongside King's Park.

The Stirling Scottish Marathon became one of the UK's biggest marathons in its first year and the ambition is to make the event Scotland's biggest 26.2mile running event.

Great Run Company chief executive Paul Foster said: “We were delighted with the response to the first-ever Stirling Scottish Marathon and we are excited to return to the heart of Scotland next year, with an improved course.

“This event managed to capture the imagination of the running community in Scotland and we're looking forward to next year's marathon.”

Stirling Council leader, Councillor Scott Farmer, said: “Stirling Council is delighted to once again host the Stirling Marathon in 2018 after the fantastic success of this year's inaugural event.

“The marathon proved to be hugely successful, helping to attract a large number of visitors to the region and promoting Stirling to an international audience.

“It was wonderful to see the way that local communities embraced the event, with crowds lining the course to support the runners. The route is truly stunning, taking in rural villages, the iconic Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle, providing a fantastic experience for runners of all abilities.

“We are well on course to achieve the ambition for the Stirling Scottish Marathon to become the leading marathon in Scotland by 2019 and look forward to the continued support of local communities in achieving this.”

Early bird sales for the marathon sold out inside three weeks after entries opened and it is expected that the event will once again reach capacity. To sign up visit greatrun.org/stirling