Meryl Cooper was clear favourite to win the women’s division of tomorrow’s Speyside Way ultra trail race, but the Oldmeldrum runner has been forced to pull out of the 59km run between Ballindalloch and Buckie.
Cooper, who represented Great Britain in the world ultra trail running championships in 2019, was also widely believed to have had a good chance of cracking the record for the Moray course.
The fastest time recorded by a woman is 4hr 29min 17sec set by Aberdonian Lucy Colquhoun in 2011. Only three other women have beaten the five-hour barrier over the current route, which has been used since 2010.
But Cooper is in good form, as shown in last month’s Bennachie 50km ultra in which she smashed the women’s record.
She has now been denied the opportunity of competing in the Speyside race because she is currently living near St Andrews and earlier this week Fife was elevated to tier 3 in the Scottish Government’s Covid regulations.
That means she is unable to travel to Moray, which is in tier 1.
Cooper said: “It has been a tough week hearing the change of tiers and Fife being added to tier 3.
“I have so much fitness right now and was just a day away from getting the chance to utilise it. I commit a huge amount of time each week to my training and I would 100% say it is my work.
“However, I feel without any official travel exemptions in place yet for athletes at my level in ultra trail running, that the right thing to do is follow the guidelines and not go to the race.”