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Athletics: In-form Morag Millar could target course record at Campus 5K

Morag Millar has been showing good form heading into the race.
Morag Millar has been showing good form heading into the race.

Scotland international Morag Millar is in the sort of form which suggests she’s more than capable of challenging the women’s course record in this evening’s Campus 5k road race at the University of the Highlands and Islands base at Beechwood, Inverness.

Mhairi Maclennan (Inverness Harriers), who is unable to compete on this occasion, set the current record of 16:39.00 in 2018.

But six days ago Millar, who is based in Stirling and competes for Central AC, showed what she is capable of by achieving a 2022 Commonwealth Games 5000m track qualifying time of 15min 43.57secs at a race in Milton Keynes.

It was a remarkable performance from the 36-year-old who last summer endured a traumatic five-day complicated labour when giving birth to daughter Mollie, who is now 13 months old.

She is now running as well as at any stage in her long career and if successful in earning a place on the Scotland team for Birmingham next summer, it will come 16 years after her last Commonwealth Games appearance, in the 1500m at Melbourne.

Millar certainly has a fine pedigree, having won the Commonwealth Youth Games 1500m at Bendigo,Australia in 2004 and the European junior 1500m at Kaunus,Lithuania in 2005.

Morag Millar achieved a 2022 Commonwealth Games qualifying time at Milton Keynes.

She is also the current Scottish 5k road running champion and is taking time out from a family holiday to compete this evening.

Millar has only twice before raced in Inverness, winning the Scottish universities cross country title in 2009 and taking second position behind Shona McIntosh (Hunters Bog Trotters) in the 2015 Baxters River Ness 10k.

Event organiser Ross Cairns said: “We are extremely pleased that Morag has confirmed that she will be running, especially after such an incredible effort at Milton Keynes, and the rest of the entry is pretty strong as well.

“It hasn’t been easy getting competition back after Covid and this event is another step in the right direction. Unfortunately we were unable to hold it last year, but now it’s back we hope to maintain the traditions of what were two excellent earlier races in 2018 and 2019.”

Megan Keith (Inverness Harriers), who finished fourth in last weekend’s European under-20 championships 3,000m in Estonia, just 0.03secs outside a medal position, will make a late decision over whether to compete but is likely to fulfill a pacemaking role.

Others expected to feature near the front of the women’s field include Constance Nankivell (Edinburgh University and East Sutherland Running Club) and Zoe Bates (Aberdeen AAC).

The race will support the Kyniska Advocacy, a charity promoting women in sport, founded by Mhairi MacLennan.

 Men’s course record also at risk

Scottish cross country champion Jamie Crowe (Central AC) is confident he can test the course record in this evening’s Campus 5k in Inverness.

The Dundee-based runner hasn’t competed since dropping out of the British 10,000m track championships at the beginning of June because of illness but feels rejuvenated after taking a short break.

He said: “I had a few weeks off but feel I’m in decent shape again and my coach,Derek Easton, thought it would be a good idea for me to do the 5k to get back into racing.

“I really enjoy running on the roads so hopefully I can do well. The course record is 14:42 and I’d like to think I can get under that. I’ve run 14:07 on the track this summer.I believe the Inverness course is flat and if we get good conditions then hopefully the times will be fast.

Kenny Wilson (Moray Road Runners), is the existing record holder, having set his time in 2019, and he’ll hope to put in a strong challenge. However, his main focus at the moment is on getting into peak shape for October’s London marathon.

Great Britain junior international Duncan Robinson should also be in the mix for a podium position.The Giffnock North athlete, who will be competing in his first serious 5k, finished 12th in the men’s 3,000m at last weekend’s European under-20 championships in Estonia.

Other contenders include Strathpeffer’s Scotland international cross country runner Hamish Hickey (Central AC) and Metro Aberdeen’s Jason Kelly who is preparing for his Scotland debut in next month’s Anglo Celtic Plate 100k.

Epic challenge for Banchory runners

Four Banchory runners will set off today in an attempt to run the length of the River Dee, from its source high in the Cairngorms to its mouth at Aberdeen harbour, in the space of 24 hours.

Scott Birse,Barry Chalmers, Daniel Christie and Peter Torrance have been training for the  Source-to-Sea 90 mile challenge since the early part of the year.

Chalmers said: “It was Scott’s idea. We were out for a run at the beginning of the year and he mentioned it was something he had always wanted to do. So, of course, we decided there and then to go for it.

“It’s going to be difficult to get the pace right and we’ll have to be sensible at the beginning.

“We’ll have a number of stopovers along the route to get a change of clothing and to refuel with food and drink.”

The run will start on Braeriach, Britain’s third highest mountain, where the springs of the Dee are found.

The Banchory runners will make the long descent towards Braemar, then on to Ballater where they’ll join the Deeside Way for the final 50 miles to Aberdeen and the finish line at Footdee.

Chalmers added: “At the end of the day the aim is to get the satisfaction of completing the course. We are hoping to be under 24 hours, but if it takes longer, then that’s ok.”

The quartet are also raising funds for Charlie House and local sports facilities. Close to £9,000 has already been secured.

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