Oldmeldrum athlete Meryl Cooper has done all she can to secure her place in this year’s world ultra-distance trail running championships in Thailand by producing a stunning performance in the Great Britain team trial.
The north east runner won the British women’s title when completing the Lakeland 100k race on the fells around Ambleside in Cumbria in 11hr 32min 19secs, with Winchester’s Jo Meek runner-up in 12:09.54.
Cooper was beaten by only seven men, with Cumbrian George Foster winning in 9:30:11.
She will now wait to hear if that’s enough to earn a trip to the Far East in November for the world event, which will be held over an 80k route at Chiang Mai – 700k north of Bangkok, on the banks of the Ping River.
The selection criteria states the first two women in the trial will be picked subject to having shown consistent form over similar courses, and being considered as having the potential to finish in the top 12 at the world championships.
Cooper said: “I’d hope to be selected, but there’s nothing official yet, so I’ll just have to wait and see.”
Her result in the Lake District was reward for following a dedicated training regime and meticulous planning which included a visit to Ambleside in June to check out the entire course over a three-day period.
Cooper said: “It was amazing. It was so good to race and show what I can do over that distance on proper trails. It’s what I love doing and it’s where my strength lies.
“I feel I really benefitted from having checked out the course in advance. It allowed me to predict how the race might unfold and helped me prepare mentally.
“I held back early on as the pace was very quick for the first 12k and I knew it wasn’t sustainable. I was maybe sixth at that point.
“But after that we came to the first two big descents which were quite technical and I was able to move into the lead.
“Jo Meek caught me on the flatter sections and pulled away a little. At about 40k, she took a wrong turn, but I called her back and we ran together until just after halfway. There was a long descent after 55k and I left her behind on that.
“From then on, I was on my own. But I couldn’t relax, I kept expecting someone to come past me as I felt I was slowing down. I felt so sore, I was so stiff around the hips and the final 30k was very tough.
“But I kept my head down and it was only over the final 2k that I became confident I was actually going to win. It was a great feeling to cross that finishing line.”
Zoey Clark hopes to boost Olympic relay chances at Diamond League meet
Zoey Clark hopes to use her appearance in this evening’s Diamond League meeting at Gateshead to enhance her chances of playing a leading role for the Great Britain relay team in the Tokyo Olympics.
Clark is one of nine women named in the Olympic relay squad. All of them will be vying for places in both the mixed and women’s relays and tonight’s meeting provides a final opportunity to impress the team management.
A special 400m race has been added to the Gateshead programme to provide seven members of the squad the opportunity to compete.
Clark said: “I want to put in a good performance to show the selectors that I’m in good shape and hopefully that will bode well when they come to think about the relay teams. It’s the last chance to show them what I can do.
“When they come to decide on who will get to run in Tokyo, they’ll look at all performances up until now, as well as how people are shaping up in training when we get to Japan.
“They’ll also look at how the runners in the individual 400m get on, so there will be a lot of factors taken into consideration.”
Clark is joined in the Gateshead meeting by fellow Tokyo-bound Scot Jake Wightman (Edinburgh AC), who runs in the Emsley Carr Mile.
North-east athlete Hodi records seven PBs on decathlon debut to win Scottish U20 title
William Hodi made a highly impressive decathlon debut by winning the Scottish under-20 title at the Ayrshire Athletic Arena in Kilmarnock.
The 17-year-old, who represents Nairn and Aberdeen AAC, hit peak form to achieve seven personal best performances on his way to a final points tally of 5,977, which is the 10th best of all-time by a Scot in this age group.
Hodi led at the end of the opening day with a series of fine results in the 100m (11.91secs), long jump (6.52m), shot (9.96m), high jump (1.80m) and 400m (52.41).
He built on that throughout day two with the 110m hurdles (15.39), discus (29.38), pole vault (3.60) and javelin (34.02), before finishing off with the 1500m in 4:41.78.
Hodi was obviously happy with the outcome, even though he fell slightly short of his target of 6,000 points.
He said: “I wanted over 6,000 points, but that was beforehand. Now that I’ve done my first decathlon I’m absolutely happy with what I’ve done.
“I feel, however, that there’s more to come and I’m keen to do another one before the end of the season.”
“I was disappointed with my 100m, but otherwise it went well and I was really happy with my high jump in particular. The only other events I didn’t get a PB in were the 110m hurdles and the shot put.”
Stroma Fraser (Inverness Harriers) won the under-17 girls’ heptathlon with 4,251 points, while Ellen MacLeod (Banchory Stonehaven AC) was third in the under-15 girls’ pentathlon with 2,658.
Meanwhile, Sam Tosh won the Glamaig hill race on Skye, recording 51min 17secs for the testing 4.5-mile course, while his Carnethy clubmate Sophie Horrocks won the women’s race in 63:59.