Inverness Harrier Mhairi Maclennan has been flying under the radar this season – but she still hopes to challenge for a place on the Great Britain senior women’s side for next month’s European cross-country championships.
When she competes in the team trials at Liverpool’s Sefton park tomorrow, the top four finishers on Merseyside will achieve automatic selection for the Euro event to be held in Lisbon next month, with a further two places to be filled at the discretion of selectors.
Maclennan excelled on her last major international outing, finishing 32nd and eighth European in the world cross championships in Denmark in March. She also helped Great Britain take fourth position in the team competition.
However, the Edinburgh-based athlete has raced only once since the end of July, but was impressive when finishing just three secs behind Irish Olympic steeplechaser Michelle Finn at a top-quality cross-country meeting in Belfast earlier this month.
She said: “It has been a bit of a bumpy ride since the summer. I had bronchitis then developed an achilles niggle, so I was unable to string anything together.
“The last six weeks has been fine but I have no idea how I might get on this weekend. I had a strong race in Ireland and was pleased to be close to Michelle Finn. I hadn’t tapered for it so to have run well there is a good indication.
“So, the pressure is off, as I have no expectations. A good performance would be satisfying but anything beyond that is a bonus. I still feel I have a chance of making the team.
“I guess I am quietly confident because cross country is what I’m strongest at. Also no one really knows what sort of shape I’m in, including myself, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”
Regardless of what happens in Liverpool, Maclennan revealed she is planning a new challenge in 2020. She said: “I’ve entered the Barcelona half marathon in February.
“It will be the longest distance I’ve raced but my long-term aim is to move up in distance. I’m still young but this is a good time to try my first half marathon as there is no world cross country championships in 2020.”
Strathpeffer’s Hamish Hickey (Central AC) will represent Scotland in the under-20 men’s race at Liverpool while Stornoway athlete Connor Maclean (Kilbarchan AC) is in the national side for the under-23 men’s competition
Metro Aberdeen’s Cameron Strachan, although not in the Scotland side on this occasion, will aim for a strong display in the senior men’s race. Lucas Cairns (Inverness Harriers) competes in the under-17 boys’ race and his sister Anna goes in the under-15 girls’ event.