In 2020 Robbie Simpson ran more than 5,200 miles in training – which isn’t much short of the distance between his home in Banchory and the Japanese capital of Tokyo, host city to this summer’s Olympic Games.
Whether the Aberdeenshire athlete gets the chance to make that journey to the Far East later this year will be determined in London five weeks from today when he competes in the national GB marathon team trial at Kew Gardens.
Simpson, the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist, will be one of 25-30 runners taking part in the elite-only race to be held on a 3.3k loop-course in front of a handful of officials and support crew.
Fellow Scot Callum Hawkins (Kilbarchan AAC) has already been selected for Japan, leaving two further available marathon places subject to the athletes achieving the qualifying time of 2hr 11min 30sec.
Simpson, whose best is 2:14:56 from two years ago, is ready to give it a go, but admits he’s not sure what sort of shape he’s in going into the final stages of preparations.
He said: “I had a really consistent spell of training throughout 2020 and averaged more than 100 miles a week.
“Since the start of this year, it has been more difficult. The weather has definitely impacted on what I wanted to do. There seems to have been some form of snow or ice around for the past eight weeks.
“So I’ve had to adapt my plans by checking the weather forecast and moving my sessions around, so I could do certain runs on days when conditions maybe weren’t so bad.
“A lot of my sessions had to be done indoors on the treadmill. It’s not ideal, but I’m glad I have it.
“Last weekend I ran 37k on it at just below marathon pace. I forgot, however, that it switches off after 1hr 40min, so it suddenly came to a halt and I crashed into the front of the machine. I had to get it going again as quickly as possible.”
Under ideal circumstances, Simpson would prefer to have competed in a few shorter races by this stage to test his sharpness, but that hasn’t been possible.
He said: “In the past I’ve run half marathons in about 65 minutes before doing a marathon. But there’s been nothing available this winter and it doesn’t look as though there will be any races before the trial.
“I might have to give myself a 10-mile time trial or something like that, but it’s not the same as racing.
“There are still five weeks to go until the race and, if I can get an uninterrupted spell of training done over that period, I’d like to have a go.”