Andy Douglas (North Highland Harriers) and Naomi Lang (Aberdeen AAC) are in line to represent Great Britain at next year’s world mountain running championships in Thailand.
Both north athletes produced excellent performances in the national team trials at Sedbergh in the Lake District.
Douglas finished third behind Max Nicholls (Tonbridge) and Joe Dugdale (Cumberland Fell Runners) in the men’s 12k race, which doubled up as this year’s Home Countries international, and the Caithness man also led Scotland to victory in the team competition.
Another Scot, reigning European champion Jacob Adkin (Keswick), was fourth, while the scoring was completed by Ross Gollan (East Sutherland), who finished eighth.
Adkin’s sister, Scout, won the women’s race in which Lang finished third as the Scots notched another team success. Dufftown’s Jill Stephen (Hunters Bog Trotters) was 11th.
The first two finishers in each race are guaranteed selection for the world up-and-down 12k mountain running championships scheduled to be held at Chai, Thailand, next February, but the selectors have the discretion to add two additional names to each team.
The teams will be announced this week when Douglas and Lang will hope to be included.
Douglas has already secured a place in the world 45k trail running championship race in Thailand and will have to choose between that and the mountain run.
He was, however, unsuccessful in a bid for an automatic place in the world uphill-only 5k race after finishing fifth in the trial held at Skiddaw 36 hours before the Sedbergh race.
Douglas said: “I’m happy with my performance at Sedbergh. It was a close race with little between us at the finish. It’s also great to lead Scotland to victory in the team competition.
“If I’m selected for the up-and-down mountain race at the world championships, I’ll not do the long trail race. It just wouldn’t be possible to double up.”
Lang’s success in the women’s trial came as something of a surprise as the Aberdeen athlete has little experience of mountain racing. She is, however, an accomplished track and cross country runner who has won a number of national titles in recent years.
Lang had shown further versatility just seven days before the Sedbergh race by winning the Helvellyn triathlon.
Meanwhile, Shona McIntosh (Hunters Bog Trotters) demonstrated good form to win the women’s division of the Scottish half marathon at Musselburgh, completing the course in 1hr 20min 28secs to finish 45th overall from a field of 2,196 runners.
The Edinburgh-based athlete, who is to compete in next month’s Baxters Loch Ness marathon, finished ahead of Claire Bruce (Metro Aberdeen) – who was runner-up in 1:21:00 – and Catriona Fraser (Inverness Harriers), who posted a personal best 1:22:22 for third position.
Elsewhere, Jim Tole (Metro Aberdeen) was a clear winner of the Rayne North 10k, in which Alex Shaw won the women’s race in 44:54. Mark Beagrie (Peterhead AC) won the accompanying 5k in 18:07, while teenager Rhian Birnie (Young Meldrum Runners) led the women’s field home in 21:17.
Espie doesn’t expect to win Scottish championship, despite series lead
James Espie picked up valuable Scottish championship points with an impressive victory in the 60th anniversary Eildon Three Hills race at Melrose.
The Deeside athlete completed the 7.15k course, which included 510 metres of climbing, in 32min 9secs to finish 30secs ahead of Yorkshire’s Sam Fisher (Howgill Harriers), while James Dunn (Corstorphine AAC) was a further 10secs behind in third position.
Heather Anderson (Fife AC) won the women’s race in 39:18, while Sophie Horrocks (Carnethy) was runner-up in 40:01 and Alice Goodall took third spot in 40:49.
Jane Oliver (Deeside Runners) was second in the over-60 women’s age group with a time of 59:19.
Espie has won the men’s hill running championship series title in each of the past two years in which the competition has been held, 2018 and 2019, but concedes he doesn’t expect to complete a hat-trick.
There are five races of differing lengths in the series, with the three best scores counting.
Espie said: “I’m at the top of the points table at the moment, but some of the other guys can overtake me if they do one or other of the remaining two races.
“I already have three races under my belt and can’t improve my score. The only way I could do that is by doing the final medium distance race, the Cioch Mor on October 9, but I’m elsewhere that weekend.
“I finished well down the field in the Dollar race earlier in the season as I was just coming back from a hip flexor injury, so I didn’t score too highly there.
“However, I’m just pleased to be getting back closer to full fitness.”
Skye half organisers in sustainability drive
This year’s Isle of Skye half marathon has set the standard for other races to follow in its efforts to become environmentally more sustainable.
Sam Crowe, of organisers Skye Events, outlined some of the innovations applied by the race committee.
She said: “We are keen to change the way we run events and reduce the impact they have. So, we made a lot of changes to the Isle of Skye half marathon, including carbon reduction measures, removal of race t-shirts, sourcing sustainable merchandise and the removal of single use plastics.
“As part of the sustainability drive, runners were encouraged to carry their own water. We were impressed that more than 50% opted to do this as we expected it to be about 20%.
“Medals were previously imported from China, but this year we were able to work with Portree High School to find a sustainable alternative. The children created designs, which were judged by our sponsors, the Scottish Salmon Company. The children then went on to produce 700 fantastic medals. As an alternative to traditional ribbons, the medals were threaded with naturally dyed yarn, using tansy from the island.
“For runners travelling to the island, we offered an option for them to plant a tree to offset their carbon footprint. We worked with the Dundreggan trees for life project, purchasing our own grove where runners could opt to have a tree planted.”
Crowe was delighted with the way in which competitors embraced the changes in a really positive and proactive way.
She added: “Overall, the event was a huge success and we look forward to implementing more sustainable practices in the future.”