Great Britain mountain running international Robbie Simpson has decided against defending his title in Saturday’s Bennachie 50k trail race.
The Banchory athlete is still recovering from helping his Adidas Terrex team win a mountain running relay in Austria a fortnight ago when he clocked the fastest time on a high altitude 30k route.
Simpson set the Bennachie course record of 3hr 45min 56secs last October and, although he was keen to run again this weekend, he feels it’s better to give it a miss.
He said: “I have another long race coming up later in the month in France and it’s not so long since I ran in Austria, so I believe it’s best for me just to get some training done this weekend rather than squeeze in another race.”
In Simpson’s absence, Jason Kelly (Metro Aberdeen) looks to be favourite to win.
The Scotland 100k international, who was runner-up behind Simpson last year, showed good speed last weekend when finishing fourth in the Baxters River Ness 10k in a personal best time of 31:29.
Kelly’s clubmates Allan Christie and Jon Gamble, third and fourth respectively last year, are also in the field.
Ellon’s Jamie Pallister, winner of three Moray ultra trail races this year, is also among the starters.
The TrYthan club member is, however, still in recovery mode after winning last weekend’s Moray Way 100 mile race.
He said: “I am doing Bennachie, but not racing. It’s just a bit of fun as I like the route and I’ll be supporting a friend who is doing it.”
Aberdeen University’s Edward Payne, who finished second in the 2019 inaugural race, is another contender.
Reigning women’s champion Meryl Cooper, isn’t competing and Emma Murray (JS Kintore), who has been runner-up for the past two years, is representing her club in the North cross country relay championships.
In their absence, Deeside’s Sam Rendall and Metro Aberdeen’s Chloe Sangster are expected to be among the leading runners.
Meanwhile, Metro Aberdeen runners Ginie Barrand and Claire Bruce are in the elite women’s field for Sunday’s Manchester marathon.
This will be Barrand’s first road marathon, although earlier in this year she finished second in the Ultra X Scotland 50k race between Fort Augustus and Dores.
Bruce made her marathon debut at Loch Ness two years ago when she finished eighth in the women’s race in 3hr 11min 10sec.
British 100k trail running champion Meryl Cooper, from Oldmeldrum, is to compete in the Scottish championship Cioch Mhor hill race at Dingwall on Saturday. Monica Padilla and Caroline Marwick, both Highland Hill Runners) will also aim to do well.
Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) is among the leading runners in the men’s race in which his clubmate Andrew Barrington should be in contention. Others expected to feature strongly include Robin Howie (Highland Hill Runners), winner of the Bennachie hill race recently, and Hamish Battle (Metro Aberdeen).
Wilson wants to play his part
Kenny Wilson hopes to help Moray Road Runners defend the senior men’s title in this weekend’s North District cross country relay championships at Nairn Links.
The Craigellachie athlete is recovering from setting a personal best 2hr 18min 42secs when finishing 20th in last weekend’s London marathon.
He said: “I want to help the team hold on to the title, but I don’t expect to be recording a fast time.”
Ewan Davidson, who set a PB when finishing third in last Sunday’s River Ness 10k is also in the Moray squad for the 4x4k race along with Kenny’s brother James and veteran Gareth Jenkins.
East Sutherland AC, Inverness Harriers and Fraserburgh Running Club will also be in contention for the medals.
Inverness Harriers are title-holders in the women’s competition, but Moray Road Runners and JS Kintore look capable of launching a strong challenge.
Myles Edwards believes Aberdeen AAC has a chance of a podium position in the East District relay championships at Gala.
The former Scottish 1500m champion has been in great form recently and last weekend he set a course record time in the Aberdeen Proms 3k race series.
Edwards said: “I think we have a strong team with Michael Ferguson, Aaron Odentz and Adam Brown likely to be in our team.”
Hannah Cameron leads the Aberdeen women’s squad which also includes twins Caitlin and Kirst Purcell.
Brothers Kai and Rhys Crawford lead the Aberdeen AAC side aiming for gold in the young athletes’ relay after picking up two silver and two bronze medal results over the past four seasons.
Run Balmoral back next year
One of Scotland’s biggest and most spectacular running events is to return in 2022.
Run Balmoral, which regularly attracts more than 5,000 entrants for its varied programme of races catering for all ages, has been cancelled in each of the past two years because of the pandemic.
But entries open today for the 2022 event which is to be held over the weekend of April 23-24.
Run Balmoral chair James Knowles is looking forward to welcoming runners back to the Deeside estate for what will be the 23rd edition of the races.
He said: “It has been a long wait since our last event, in 2019, and we would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during what has been a traumatic time for so many people.
“The support we have received from runners, sponsors, suppliers and the wider local community has been terrific and, although significant challenges remain, we are excited to be able to confirm that our full programme of races is planned to go ahead over the weekend of April 23-24.
“Entries are now open and we would encourage runners to sign up as soon as possible, because limited places are available as a large number of people have deferred places from 2020 and 2021.
“We will be continuing with our series of special medals depicting notable landmarks within and around the Balmoral Estate. The 2022 medal will feature Balmoral Castle. ”
Full details can be found at www.runbalmoral.com