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Athletics: Inverness’ Megan Keith runs well inside qualifying standard for European under-20 championships

Inverness runner Megan Keith.
Inverness runner Megan Keith.

Megan Keith boosted her European under-20 selection prospects by producing an outstanding performance in the Scottish 3,000m championships at Linwood stadium.

The Inverness athlete struck gold by clocking 9min 19.05secs, the sixth fastest performance of all-time by a Scottish athlete in this age group. The national record of 9:04.14 was set by Edinburgh Olympian Yvonne Murray in 1983.

Keith’s performance marked a 10 second improvement on the time she set at last month’s Loughborough international when conditions were much less favourable.

It also propels her to the top of this year’s UK under-20 rankings and is well inside the qualifying standard of 9:30.00 required for a place on the Great Britain team for the European championships in Tallin next month.

She said: “I was hoping to run 9:20 or just under, so I’m happy with the way it played out.

“It was a different experience from other track races I’ve done, competing in a mixed race, but I enjoyed it.

“Some of the men shot off at a very fast pace, but I went off more conservatively and was able to catch a few of them over the second half of the race. I’m certainly glad I didn’t get sucked into the early pace.

“However, I hadn’t realised my own pace had dropped in the second kilometre, so I knew I had to pick it up again and make a long run for home.

“I’m glad I was able to execute it well.”

Keith is well positioned to secure European under-20 championship selection, but the 19-year-old now also has August’s world under-20 championships in Nairobi within possible range, as the standard is set at 9:12.00.

She said: “The Europeans are my main goal.

“The standard is high for the world event and I had a look at it, but the race is at high altitude and I think it would be a shock to my system as I’ve no experience of that. So, I doubt if it’s really on my bucket list for this year.”

The remaining podium places behind Keith at Linwood were taken by Aberdeen AAC twins Kirsty and Caitlin Purcell, who set respective PBs of 10:11.64 and 10:14.84.

There were many other fine performances in the non-championship races on the programme organised by the Glasgow Athletics Association and the British Milers Club.

Kai Crawford, who until the start of this season hadn’t broken two mins for 800m, made best use of the perfect running conditions to set an Aberdeen AAC under-17 age group record of 1min 53.93sec. The previous mark of 1:54.80 was set by Colin Donald in 1983.

Kai Crawford (number 16).

Aberdeen AAC’s Michael Ferguson achieved an outdoor PB of 8:16.77 when finishing third in the men’s 3,000m race won by Falkirk’s Kane Elliott in 8:14.73. That’s the second quickest time ever recorded by an Aberdeen club member.

Megan almost breaks Forres 10k course record 36 hours after Scottish 3,000m championships exploits

Great Britain cross country international Megan Keith came within a few seconds of breaking the women’s course record in the Back-to-Basics 10k at Forres.

The Inverness Harriers club member was competing 36 hours after going to the top of the UK under-20 3,000m track rankings with a European championship qualifying time.

Keith completed the Benromach course in 35min 6secs, just three secs outside the women’s record set by Lyn Harding (Houghton Harriers) in 1990.

She said: “I had no idea about the record. It was just a fun race to do and certainly better than just doing a training run.

“My legs felt good, although it was definitely a run of two halves. I was running fast on the way out, but when we turned I found it quite hard to keep pushing along.”

Keith’s clubmates Jenny Bannerman and Catriona Fraser were the next fastest with respective times of 35:42 and 36:31.

Max Abernethy, competing in his first race for more than 18 months, dominated the men’s competition.

The 20-year-old Fraserburgh athlete took an early lead and was never seriously challenged as he sped to victory in a PB of 31:30.

Metro Aberdeen’s Ben Ward was runner-up in 31:49, with Shaun Cumming (Highland Hill Runners) third in 31:54 – both PBs.

Abernethy said: “I’m happy as it was my first race back. I would have liked to have been a bit faster, but it turned out to be pretty much a solo effort after the first mile.

“I struggled a bit running into the wind over the final two miles, but I knew I had a decent lead and was never worried about being caught.”

Metro’s Jason Kelly sets Perthshire marathon record

Jason Kelly celebrated his call-up to the Scotland team for August’s Anglo-Celtic Plate 100k by setting a marathon record in Perthshire.

The Metro Aberdeen runner won the Strathearn marathon in 2hr 33min 07secs to slash six mins off the previous record, which had stood since 2013. He was also 10mins quicker than his winning time at the same venue in 2019.

He said: “I’m really pleased with that. I said beforehand I’d be happy if I could win in 2:34 or 2:35 and come out of it feeling good.

“So I’ve managed to do it a little quicker and I think my legs are fine. Now it’s a case of focusing on the 100k later in the summer.”

Jason Kelly.

Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire athlete Meryl Cooper wasn’t too disappointed after being beaten into second position by Garscube’s Katie White in the women’s division of the Dearg Up n’ Doon 30k trail race at Blair Atholl.

White, who holds the women’s record for the Loch Ness marathon, took the top prize after completing the testing course in 2hr 49min 24secs, while Cooper came through in 2:55:53.

Cooper’s priority is to get into shape for next month’s Great Britain team trials for the world ultra distance trail running championships, so didn’t want to push herself to the limit.

She said: “It went well, but I was thinking about keeping something in reserve for next week’s training. I didn’t want to destroy myself trying to catch Katie. So I decided to rein it in a little bit.”

Carnethy’s Milan Misak won the men’s race in 2:37:50, with Stornoway’s Norman Ferguson second in 2:38:54.