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Athletics: Megan Keith looking to boost under-20 European Championship prospects

Megan Keith.
Megan Keith.

Inverness athlete Megan Keith hopes to boost her under-20 European Championship prospects by competing in a 3,000m track race at Renfrew this evening.

But the 19-year-old distance runner is also contemplating making an appearance in Sunday’s Back-to-Basics 10k road race at Forres.

Keith hopes to represent Great Britain in the 3,000m at the Euro event in Tallin next month after securing a qualifying time of 9min 29.26secs at the Loughborough international a fortnight ago.

There are three places available on the team for Estonia and Keith currently lies in third position in the UK rankings.

She still has to negotiate the official trial at Manchester over the weekend of June 26-27 but is looking to put another marker down by posting a fast time this evening.

However, because she’s competing in a mixed race, the performance won’t be taken into consideration by the selectors.

Inverness athlete Megan Keith.

She said: “It won’t count but it will still be an official time so I’m keen to run well for my own satisfaction. Loughborough was very windy and it was a tactical race, so I’d love to run faster in Renfrew.

“Then I’ll show what I can do at the trial. If I finish in the top three there I should get my place.”

Keith’s appearance at Forres will depend on how well she recovers from the 3,000m

She said: “It would be fun to do it and support a local race but it depends how I feel. The 3,00m is my priority but if I feel ok afterwards then I’ll do Forres too.”

Back-to-Basics race organiser Paul Rogan is relieved that he has finally been able to put the event on after a long wait.

He put on a very successful similar event over the same route in December with all Covid protocols in place.

But the path towards holding this second one has been rocky in the extreme due to the second wave of the pandemic.

Rogan said: “This has been a long time coming. We had a great first race in December before things closed down again and we thought we would be OK to have the next one a month ago.

“However restrictions hadn’t lifted far enough by then so we had to cancel, and then we also had to survive the scare of Moray being held in Level 3 for that extra time before we could give this weekend’s event the go ahead.”

Scotland international Jenny Bannerman (Inverness Harriers) will be clear favourite to win the women’s division of the race if Keith doesn’t take part.

Metro Aberdeen’s Ben Ward, Fraserburgh’s Max Abernethy and Alness runner Gordon Lennox appear to be the main contenders for honours in the men’s division.

Meryl Cooper steps up preparations for world trials

Meryl Cooper’s preparations for the ultra distance trail running world championships will continue at Blair Atholl on Saturday.

The Oldmeldrum athlete is gearing up for the Great Britain team selection race at Ambleside next month where she will compete over a 100km course.

This weekend’s race in Perthshire is a much shorter challenge, taking in a 30k route which climbs just over 1000 metres over the summit of Ben Dearg, but it will give her the opportunity to enjoy a competitive run.

Aberdeenshire athlete Meryl Cooper.

Cooper showed good form last month to win the women’s division of the Ultra X Scotland 50k race between Fort Augustus and Dores.

And although playing down her chances of winning tomorrow, she’ll be aiming to build on that success.

Cooper said: “It’s not too big a run and it will be different to what I’m used to doing, but it’s another chance to race. In fact it’s my final race before going to the world trials.

“To be honest, I’ve no idea how it will go as I haven’t really tapered for it. I did a three-hour run last Saturday and a four -hour run on Sunday.I’m sure when I get into race mode I’ll be ready.”

Cooper is quite rightly keeping her focus on July’s Lake District GB trial which, if she runs well, offers the possibility of a trip to Chiang Mai,Thailand for the world championships in November.

She said: “I’ll be doing a big weekend of running down in the Lake District later this month as I plan to recce the whole course. Then I’ll be back for the race on  July 10.”

Kelly looking to build momentum for international duty

Jason Kelly is to celebrate his first Scotland call-up by competing in this weekend’s Strathearn marathon at Comrie,Perthshire.

The Metro Aberdeen runner, who took up the sport less than five years ago, is to represent his country in the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k race in August.His clubmates Kyle Greig and Chris Richardson are also in the five-man Scotland squad.

Kelly is obviously excited about the prospect of pulling on a blue vest later in the summer and is already putting in upwards of 100 miles per week in training.

He has taken his foot off the accelerator just a little to prepare for this Sunday’s marathon which he hopes will deliver a confidence-boosting result.

Jason Kelly.

He said: “I won this race two years ago when I recorded 2hr 43min 35secs. It’s by no means a fast course as it climbs a few hundred metres over the opening 10k and after that it’s all slightly undulating.

“In any case, it’s not going to be an all-out effort this weekend as I don’t want to spend too long recovering from it as I want to keep going with my 100k preparations.

“Although I’m sure I can run much faster than in 2019, I’m trying not to put down a target time as I just want a good, long tempo effort.

“So, I’m not going to worry too much about the numbers. The success of my run will be measured by how quickly I recover from it.

“I don’t have any other races planned between now and the 100k as I want to keep completely focussed. But, if there were some shorter local events popping up, I might give one or two a go.”

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