Andy Douglas has won British and world mountain-running honours but this weekend the Highland athlete has the opportunity to pick up his first Scottish title.
The Edinburgh-based Caithness runner, who hasn’t competed since finishing fourth in February’s Scottish cross-country race at Falkirk, will line-up in Sunday’s national hill-running championships at Comrie, Perthshire.
He said: “I think I’ve won five British titles and the World Mountain Running World Cup twice, but I’ve not yet won a Scottish title.
“There are so many races all over the world every year that it has never been possible to run in the Scottish, but obviously this year is different and there will be a lot of good runners taking part.”
To meet Covid guidelines, the race, to be held over a 12k course featuring an 830m climb and 150m of descent, will take a much altered format from usual.
Douglas explained: “To maintain physical distancing, runners will be set off in waves of 30 at timed intervals. Everyone will be seeded with the fastest going in the first wave.
“It should be good and I’m looking forward to it. I just hope there’s no late change in the situation and it goes ahead.
“I’ve been able to keep training well over the summer despite there being no races. I enjoy doing some hard training sessions so my motivation hasn’t really been affected.
“I had been preparing for the world long distance mountain running championships on Lanzarote in November, but that has now been cancelled.
“However, I do have a few races lined-up in Italy next month. The Italians seem to have been quite successful at putting races on recently and the country isn’t on the quarantine list at the moment. But we’ll have to wait to see what happens.”
The only top name missing from the Comrie line-up this weekend is Keswick-based European mountain running champion Jacob Adkin who is self isolating after returning from an event in Austria.
But Douglas will face a strong challenge from his Great Britain team-mate Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners).
Simpson won the Lairig Ghru mountain marathon earlier in the month but will hope to have recovered sufficiently well enough to launch a bid for the gold medal. Like Douglas, the Banchory runner has yet to win a Scottish senior title and will be keen to fill that hole in his trophy cabinet.
Others capable of being among the medals include Great Britain international Graham Gristwood (Mercia), East Sutherland’s Ross and Eoghan Gollan, Metro Aberdeen’s Hamish Battle and Gavin Bryson of Highland Hill Runners.
Scout Adkin (Ambleside) is to defend her title in the women’s race in which Dufftown’s Jill Stephen (Hunters Bog Trotters) may offer a challenge. Caroline Marwick (Highland Hill Runners) is another of the leading entrants.