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Athletics: Scottish Marathon Project place has Inverness’ Mhairi Maclennan aiming for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Mhairi Maclennan.
Mhairi Maclennan.

Mhairi Maclennan has never raced beyond the 10-mile mark, but that hasn’t softened her desire to represent Scotland in the marathon at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

The 25-year-old Edinburgh-based Inverness Harriers club member may still have to dip her toe into the deep waters of the 26.2-mile challenge, but she has ample experience of many other endurance running disciplines.

She has twice won the Scottish senior cross-country title and has performed with distinction for Great Britain at the world and European cross-country championships.

Her track credentials are no less impressive, with a best 10,000m time of 32min 58.42secs making her the 12th-fastest Scots woman in history.

Now Maclennan has been inducted to the Scottish Marathon Project, an initiative aimed at nurturing the country’s best distance runners with a general aim of increasing standards and a specific goal of securing strong representation at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Maclennan is excited about the opportunities this latest step might open up for her career.

She said: “It would be an amazing honour to compete for Scotland at a Commonwealth Games in the UK.

“That would be more than a dream come true.

“I’m certainly looking seriously at the marathon and it’s good to have the backing and support of the project at this stage.

“However, I haven’t so much as raced a half marathon yet, so it’s difficult to assess where I’m at.

“My plan was to have done a couple of half marathons last year, but that obviously didn’t happen because of the pandemic and the cancellation of races.

“Hopefully I can get some done this year with a view to doing my first marathon in early 2022. At the moment, it’s difficult to assess how I might get on as I haven’t had a race of any quality since the national cross-country championships and that was almost a year ago.

“All that’s really been available is virtual racing, but that’s not for me as I found out last year.

“In a normal race, when it hurts, you get propelled on by your competitors – but I can’t dig deep like that in a virtual race when you are on your own.”

Mhairi Maclennan.

Maclennan has enjoyed success in recent years despite being plagued by bronchial problems, but is thankfully now in good health.

She said: “I’ve never had a clear diagnosis of the problem, but I’ve been fine since last May.

“Fitness-wise, I am in reasonable shape.

“I had a couple of niggles in the summer which took a while to resolve and I had quite a low training volume.

“Since November, though, I’ve been training consistently and I’ve been hitting times in sessions that I was doing when I was running really well in the past.”

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