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Athletics: Aberdeen AAC’s Naomi Lang on form in Scotland’s first elite road race for eight months

Aberdeen AAC's Naomi Lang.
Aberdeen AAC's Naomi Lang.

Aberdeen AAC’s Naomi Lang displayed some outstanding form when competing in the first elite road race held in Scotland for more than eight months.

The Edinburgh University sports science student set a personal best time of 16min 44secs, finishing runner-up behind fellow Scotland international Annabel Simpson (Fife AC) in the Run and Become Sri Chinmoy Invitational 5k at the Fife Cycle Park near Lochgelly.

To comply with current guidelines, the event was restricted to 30 of Scotland’s top men and women who ran in separate races on an enclosed five-lap course. No spectators were allowed to attend.

Simpson led from the start and went on to win in impressive style, enjoying a lead of close to 100 metres over Lang at the finish. Another Edinburgh student, Rebecca Johnson, was third in 16:51.

Lang, who had raced since February, produced a strong finish and was happy with the outcome.

She said: “I was very pleased. It was just so nice to get a race as it has been a long time. There was a strong field and the course was good as well.

“I was in a group of four or five and we sat back a bit behind Annabel, who started fast. Becca and I worked together and we got away from the others then I managed to pull away from her.

“I maybe closed the gap on Annabel a little in the middle part of the race, but she was strong again towards the end.”

Great Britain junior cross-country international Megan Keith (Inverness Harriers) finished in fifth position and admits her return to road racing left her with mixed feelings.

Megan Keith, centre.

The Scottish under-20 cross-country champion made a brave effort to live with winner Simpson’s early pace, but it was a gamble which didn’t quite pay off as the Highland athlete slipped back in the second half of the race.

Her time of 17min is the fastest she has run on the road, but 10secs short of her track PB.

Keith said: “I guess it wasn’t a great performance, but it wasn’t bad either. There were good and bad things about it.

“Annabel set off like a rocket and I made a split minute decision to go with her.

“That definitely tested my speed and, although she had a lead on me, it wasn’t huge and I was able to hang on.

“But after about 2.5k I began to give way and my legs felt as though they were locking up and I began to slip back.

“I would have liked to have run quicker and finished higher up, but it was fun to have a race again and it was very well organised.”

Keith’s Inverness clubmate Jenny Bannerman was sixth in 17:12, while Aberdeen AAC’s Hannah Cameron finished 13th (17:47), Zoe Bates was 19th (17:59) and Kirsty Purcell 26th (19:06).

Andy Douglas claims Caithness 10K win

Great Britain mountain running international Andy Douglas (North Highland Harriers) showed his class by claiming a clearcut victory in the Caithness 10k at Staxigoe near Wick.

The blustery conditions ruled out any chance the Halkirk athlete had of breaking his course record of 31:39 set last year, but he still finished well ahead of his rivals when clocking 32:18.

However, the wind did not prevent runner-up Craig Moar, from Orkney, from scything almost one minute off his previous best when recording 34:09 for second position, while Mark Taylor (North Highland Harriers) took third position in 36:40.

Jane Klimas won the women’s race in 42:36, with her Highland Hill Runners clubmates Hannah Paterson (44:31) and Marnie Ker (46:00) finishing second and third respectively.

Douglas said: “I probably ran a bit slower than I would have liked, but it’s something to work from. I just tried to take it comfortably and ran within myself for the most part.

“It’s an undulating course and there were some parts where we were facing a headwind and I had to work a bit harder.”

Andy Douglas.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race was only the second 10k event held in the north since the beginning of April and one of the organisers, Donna Stewart of North Highland Harriers, felt everyone taking part enjoyed the experience.

She said: “It went as well as we hoped. Everyone stuck to the guidelines and applied the precautions we put in place.

“Runners seemed to be delighted to be able to take part in a race again and there were lots of people achieving personal best times.

“We’ll now look into the possibility of putting on another race in early 2021.”