Top Class Field to Tackle Inverness Half Marathon
March 5, 2020
KENNY WILSON HOPES FOR FAST TIME IN A QUALITY LINE-UP
Scotland international Kenny Wilson is relishing the prospect of facing some top quality opposition in Sunday’s Inverness half marathon which has attracted a record 2,940 competitors from 13 countries.
The Moray Road Runners club member showed outstanding form earlier in the month when outsprinting Deeside’s Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist Robbie Simpson to win the Kinloss to Lossiemouth half marathon in a personal best time of 1hr 4min 55secs
Although conditions were favourable, with an exceptionally strong tailwind favouring quick performances, Wilson believes he is in shape to produce another fast time in the Highland capital.
He said: “I feel I should be able to run somewhere in the 65min range.It’s a really good course and one capable of offering quick times.
“There’s a bit of climbing until the halfway stage but if you get to that point in good shape its quite fast after that. It’s a case of not going out too hard. It also looks like there will be a good competitive field which is good as it helps generate better times. I’ve run here once before, in 2017 when I finished third. It was only my second half marathon and I ran 1:08:37. I was happy with that but I’d be pretty disappointed if I did anything similar this weekend.”
Wilson is pleased that the race, now in its 36th year, will also feature athletes of the calibre of Weynay Gerbreselassie (Shettleston Harriers) and Cameron Strachan (Metro Aberdeen).
He said: “Weynay won the Inverness race when I last did it and is running well at the moment. Cameron has also been in great form over the winter and it will be good to compete against him over this sort of distance.”
Glasgow-based Gebreselassie has returned from a spell of altitude training in Ethiopia and last weekend the Shettleston Harriers club member was first Scottish-based finisher in London’s Big Half Marathon where he took 12th position in 1:04:19. A repeat of that level of performance might be good enough to win this weekend.
Strachan recently ran a personal best 5km road time of 13:58 in Northern Ireland but subsequently pulled out of the Scottish cross country championships because of illness. He is desperate to make amends for that setback.
He said:”I was originally going to run Inverness as a bit of fun after the national cross country but because I missed that, I’m now going to give the half marathon a bit of a bash. It has given me something to focus on.”
Strachan is largely untested over this distance. He ran two half marathons last year, neither of them seriously, finishing third at the Isle of Skye race in 1:12:52 and second at Jedburgh in 1:11:14. However, he will undoubtedly run considerably faster this weekend.
Kevin Wood is another athlete capable of featuring on the podium. The Fife AC runner has a best time of 1:07:05 set at last year’s Great Scottish Run in Glasgow.
But he showed outstanding form a fortnight ago when placing third in the Scottish cross country championships on a mudbath course at Falkirk. A repeat of that calibre of performance would see him finish near the front this weekend.
Others expected to put in strong performances include Will Mackay (Aberdeen AAC), Dougie Selman (Corstorphine AAC), Ben Ward (Metro Aberdeen), Tom Roche (JS Kintore) and Lewis Rodgers (Fife AC).
LIZ ABBOT AIMS TO DEFEND WOMEN’S TITLE
Liz Abbott (Lytham St Anne’s) returns to defend her title in the women’s division of the race. The Lancashire athlete, who set a personal best 1:16:52 when winning 12 months ago in what was her first half marathon for a decade, believes she’s capable of running at least as fast again.
She said: “I’m excited and feeling pretty good. I did no running for 10 weeks in the autumn because of a foot injury, although I kept some fitness by doing a lot of cross training and strength and conditioning work.
“The weather has been challenging so it has been difficult to assess how well everything is going because training times are affected by the wind.
“It’s only recently that I’ve been able to judge my fitness and I was pleased to get a my fastest 5km time which is a good sign. I hope to be around personal best shape if conditions are fine, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Jenn Wetton, who finished runner-up three years in a row between 2015 and 2017, returns for another crack at a podium position after finishing fourth in 2019.
The Stirling-based mum said: “To be perfectly honest, I’m really not sure what to expect. I’m training well although I feel I’m not doing much – averaging 70miles a week compared to 100 in previous years.
“All my sessions are on the treadmill now as my husband works away, so it’s hard to tell what sort of shape I’m really in, but I feel I’m working hard and running well. I’ve been able to run sub 19min with the baby buggy at flat parkrun 5kms, which is not as easy as it may look. I’m enjoying fitting my running around my son and involving him when I can. I’ve not raced properly for a few months but I love racing in Inverness so didn’t want to miss out. I hope I can be competitive.”
Megan Crawford (Fife AC), who won the Loch Ness marathon in 2015, is also capable of challenging for a podium position.
Lairig Ghru mountain marathon champion Kerry Prise could also be among the leading pack. The Metro Aberdeen runner, who won last year’s Crathes half marathon, doesn’t race often but is usually strong when she does.
ELITES CHASE CASH BONUSES BUT ALL RUNNERS TREATED LIKE CHAMPIONS
The elite runners will be chasing cash bonuses which are being offered for the first time for record-breaking performances in the men’s and women’s competitions.
Race Director Malcolm Sutherland said: “A £100 bonus on top of the winners’ prizes of £300 is available if a record is set.
“The times to beat are 1:04:27 set by Robbie Simpson of Deeside Runners in 2018 or the women’s course record of 1:13:21 set by Kenya’s Cathy Mutwa in 2013. Hopefully this will provide an added incentive for the top runners.”
Although the race has attracted a number of top calibre athletes at the sharp end, Sutherland emphasises Inverness has a good reputation for welcoming runners of every level.
He said: “Everyone receives a warm welcome and the atmosphere in the stadium at the finish is always tremendous. There’s also a fantastic level of support along the route. We consider every participant to be a champion.
“It’s remarkable that 21% of those taking part in the half marathon are tackling this race distance for the first time.
“We also have an amazing range of ages taking part with Gerry McPartlin from Strathcarron the oldest at 76, while Connor Hutchison from Inverness is the youngest at 17.
“We also have a 5km fun run which has attracted more than 1,000 entrants. A limited number of places will be available on race day but anyone planning to take part should arrive early to avoid disappointment. Children aged 8 and under must be accompanied by an adult who should also enter.”