Cross-country champion Mhairi Maclennan would love to represent Scotland at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but she’s not yet sure which event to target.
The 10,000m would be an obvious choice as the Edinburgh-based Inverness Harriers member was ranked fourth in Scotland behind Steph Twell, Eilish McColgan and Sara Inglis in 2019.
She has a decent pedigree for the distance, her PB of 32min 58.42secs was set when representing Great Britain in the European Cup team competition at London’s Parliament Hill track 12 months ago.
Maclennan said: “I know I can run a decent 10,000m. But I need to do it quite a bit faster than I’ve managed before, so we’ll have to see.”
There is, however, also the intriguing possibility of the 25-year-old launching a bid for a place in the 3,000m steeplechase, an event she hasn’t tackled since her teenage days at Charleston Academy in Inverness.
She said: “I’ve had a conversation about it with my coach, Helen Clitheroe. I guess it would be fun. But the girls doing it are really fast.
“I doubt if I have that speed. You have to remember it’s only 3,000m and although the barriers are there to slow you down, I don’t know if I’d have the turnover for it.”
Maclennan still holds the Inverness Harriers’ under-17 girls’ record of 5:54.2 for the 1500m steeplechase, set 10 years ago, but says that doesn’t prove she still has an aptitude for the event.
She laughed and said: “I think I only ever ran three steeplechases and sometimes I was the only one in the race.”
The third and possibly most enticing option for Maclennan is the marathon, which she is seriously drawn to, although she has never raced beyond 10 miles.
She said: “The marathon excites me far more than the others. I don’t know why, but since I was 16, every time I watched the London Marathon on TV I cried. I just found it very moving. I’d love to be part of something like that.
“I’m aware I haven’t so much as run a half marathon yet, but I’d hope to do that at some point over the next year or so. I was hoping to have run one by now, but that hasn’t happened because of the current situation.
“You never know what’s going to happen next, especially at times like these, so it’s difficult to plan with any certainty.”
Aside from her 2022 Commonwealth Games aspirations, Maclennan is also optimistic about her future as a cross-country runner.
She said: “I would love to keep making GB teams for the European and world cross-country championships. It’s always a great achievement to be selected for these events.”
Runner first inspired to take up sport by school’s janitor
Great Britain international Maclennan can trace her love of cross-country running back to her days as a pupil at Kirkhill primary school in Inverness-shire.
The school janitor, Mark Sloggie, started a running group at lunchtimes which Maclennan joined.
She made good progress and in 2007 collected her first national title at Kirkcaldy, leading from the start to win the P7 girls’ race at the Scottish schools cross-country championships.
Maclennan said: “The janitor organised two training sessions at lunchtimes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was fun, but I remember getting nervous before them. It was like having two races every week.
“Then I got involved with Colin Baillie, a coach, and I started going to Inverness Harriers. I was always active as a youngster and naturally fit, so I think that’s why I did relatively well.
“When I went to Charleston Academy my running dipped to begin with as I was more interested in making friends, but I kept going with it.
“In 2010, I made my first Scotland appearance, running in the Celtic international cross-country match in Dublin. I sprinted off at the start and led for the first 100m, but then finished almost last.
“It was such a huge experience for me at the time. When I got the selection letter I took it to school to show my friends. Nowadays you get an email ,which isn’t so exciting.”
Maclennan is now an established cross-country international and has won the Scottish women’s national title twice in the past three seasons.
In 2017, she made her Great Britain debut at the European under-23 championships in Slovakia, finishing ninth to help her side win team gold medals.
Last year, at senior level, she was 32nd at the world championships in Denmark.