Dave Andrews experienced perhaps the most unconventional of all international debuts in 2020 as he had no opponents to run against.
The veteran Metro Aberdeen ultra-distance specialist was in line to make his first appearance for Great Britain at September’s European 24 hours championships in Verona in September, but the event was cancelled because of the coronavirus.
However, the International Association of Ultrarunners decided to offer some consolation for those athletes who had been preparing for the event by organising a virtual six-hour global solidarity run instead.
Each selected individual was invited to complete the run in their own local area so Andrews, proudly wearing his GB kit, chose to tackle a one-kilometre lap of Duthie Park.
He said: “It was great to be selected but it was different from what I thought it would be.
“However, we had a GB squad WhatsApp group going for a couple of months around that time and I found it motivational to hear what all the others were saying about various issues.
“The whole purpose of the run was to show solidarity within the ultra-running community and I feel it achieved that.
“Six hours is a bit short for me but it turned out to be good. I managed 78 laps of the park and around 20-30 other people came along at different points to do a bit of it with me.
“I would run four laps steady then every fifth lap I’d run fast, so there was a bit of a structure to it. I wasn’t just plodding round.
“I could have done more but, although I was wearing GB kit and treating it seriously, I was still using it as a training run.
“Although the European championships had been cancelled, there was still to be an open 24 hours race in Verona, three weeks after the Duthie Park run, and I wanted to do it.
“Unfortunately I picked up back and knee injuries and didn’t train much for four weeks before Duthie Park or again after it. So, I wasn’t in great shape for Verona.
“And it was an abysmal performance. My knee flared up after three hours and I hobbled on for another three hours, but that was it.”
Andrews salvaged some pride at the end of October when he finished sixth in in the Gloucester 24 hours race.
He said: “Gloucester came six weeks after Verona and again I didn’t get much training done.I only decided to go after completing 160k over five days a fortnight before the race.
“I adopted a more relaxed attitude than I did for Verona and it paid off. I just went out to enjoy it,which is what matters.
“I finished Gloucester with 215k which was about 20k short of what I would have liked, but everything considered, it wasn’t bad.”