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Athletics: Megan Keith heads to Milton Keynes; Catriona Fraser-Lennox leads the way in North District

Megan Keith has been in excellent form this year.
Megan Keith has been in excellent form this year.

Great Britain junior international Megan Keith (Inverness Harriers) travels to Milton Keynes this weekend for the second fixture in this winter’s British cross challenge race series.

The Edinburgh University sports science student won the under-20 women’s race in the opening match at Cardiff in October and is favourite to repeat that result over a 4.8k course at Teardrop Lakes.

It will be Keith’s final competition before she runs in the Great Britain European championships team trials at Liverpool on November 27.

She said: “It should be another hard race. I’ve never competed at Milton Keynes before but, hopefully, it will be a good course.”

Keith has shown outstanding form so far this season. She posted the quickest time in October’s Scottish cross country relay championships where she led Edinburgh to team victory.

Last weekend she won the under-20 title in the  Scottish short course cross country championships at Lanark when finishing a close fourth overall behind Olympic 1500m silver medallist Laura Muir (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers). Keith again led Edinburgh to another team victory.

Meanwhile, Scotland international cross country runner Sean Chalmers is to take part in the Gathimba Edwards Foundation Safari series 5k at Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park on Sunday.

The Aberdeen-based Inverness Harriers club member will use the event as part of his training for the Great Britain European cross country trials at Liverpool later in the month.

Aberdeen ultra distance specialist Sarah Milne is one of the top entrants for the women’s race along with teenagers Rhian Birnie (Young Meldrum Runners) and Aimee Tawse (Aberdeen AAC).

Catriona aims for first league title

Catriona Fraser-Lennox hopes to consolidate her position at the top of the women’s division of the North District cross country league when the second of this winter’s six meetings goes ahead at Evanton on Saturday.

The Inverness Harriers club member won the opening round of the competition at Forres last month, just a fortnight after setting a club record time of 2hr 58min 02 sec in the London marathon.

Now she’s aiming for another top level performance to take her a step closer to what would be her first league title.

Fraser-Lennox said: “I’ve been competing in the league since I was a youngster but I’ve never won anything. When I was 14 or 15 I was finishing second, third or fourth in races. I have also competed as a senior without winning.

“But I’ve had a great year so far, setting my best times for 10k, half marathon and marathon, so it would be amazing to round it off by winning the league.I’ll certainly be giving it a bash.”

Athletics: Millie McClelland-Brooks is north’s shining light at Scottish short course cross country championships

Fraser-Lennox knows she faces some tough opposition this weekend, but hopes local knowledge will work to her advantage.

She said: “It’s my local course as it’s just a 15 minute drive from my front door so I know what to expect. It’s a tougher course than Forres with a few tough hills and some rough sections underfoot.

“I expect Moray’s Kirstie Rogan to give me a good test. She wasn’t all that far behind me at Forres and she’s been running well in hill races.”

Although she enjoys cross country, Fraser admits that road running is her passion. But she aims to do well in both over the coming months.

She said: “I want to do London again next year and see if I can run even faster than I did in October. The only previous marathon I’d done before that was at Belfast in 2019 when I ran about 3:49.00. I hadn’t trained properly for it.

“But this year I got it right. The aim was always to get under three hours, which I did, and it felt good.

“My next big target is to improve my half marathon time at Inverness next March before hopefully tackling London next October.”

In the meantime she has important cross country dates in her diary.

She said: “Apart from the league races I have the North championships at Gordonstoun in December. I haven’t run there since I did the North schools championships many years ago.

“I’d also be interested in the Inter District championships in January and the national championships the following month.”

Meanwhile John Newsom (Inverness Harriers) leads the men’s division after the opening match and the Nairn-based athlete plans to compete again this weekend. His opponents include Lennox-Fraser’s husband Gordon who was third in the first match.

Moray Road Runners are expected to field a strong squad including Matt Blunden, Ewan Davidson, James Wilson and Gareth Jenkins.

Pallister goes for grand slam

Jamie Pallister is playing down his chances of completing a grand slam of Moray ultra race victories when he competes in the Dava Way 50k on Saturday.

The Ellon runner has won all three of his previous races in the series, starting with the Moray Coastal Trail 50 miles in June, then the Speyside Way 100k in August followed by the Moray Way 100 miles at the beginning of October.

Jamie Pallister.

But he has struggled to put in any serious training since the most recent of these victories.

Pallister said: “I picked up an injury after the 100 miler so I’ve only run about 50 miles since then. I’m running on Saturday, but only to get it done and complete the series.

“I’m now concentrating on getting ready for next year when my first big race will be the Highland Fling 53 mile run between Milngavie and Tyndrum. It’s to be the 2022 Scottish ultra trail championship.”

Bennachie ultra race winner Allan Christie (Metro Aberdeen), Moray’s John Anderson and Peterhead’s Andrew Smith are among the other contenders for the men’s title tomorrow while RAF man Ben Livesey could also pose a threat.

Nicola MacDonald (Metro Aberdeen) is among the favourites to win the women’s race. The Banchory athlete has previous ultra distance experience, having won the Speyside Way 59k in 2020.

She showed good form last month when setting a personal best time of 2:56:10 when placing fourth in the women’s division of the Baxters Loch Ness marathon.

Her rivals include veteran Shetland athlete Charlotte Black who won the Moray Coastal Trail 50 miles and Emma Murray (JS Kintore) who was sixth in the Loch Ness marathon in a PB 3:01:24.