Caithness athlete Andy Douglas has recovered from a fractured knee and will test his form in Saturday’s Scottish Inter District cross country championships at Irvine’s Beach Park.
The Edinburgh-based Great Britain mountain running international, who is a member of North Highland Harriers, has competed on only a couple of occasions since finishing third in the Home Countries hill international at Sedbergh last September.
He finished six seconds outside his course record in the Thurso parkrun 5k just before Christmas, then placed second behind Lochaber’s Finlay Wild in the Aonach Mor hill race on New Year’s Day.
This weekend’s race, held over a challenging 7k course, will provide Douglas with the sternest test so far on his journey back to full fitness.
He said: “About a week after the Sedbergh race I was out for a long run along the shoreline when I slipped on either a wet rock or some seaweed.
“Unfortunately I landed on the edge of a rock and sustained a small but deep cut to my left knee. A few hours later I started to feel nauseous so I went to A&E where an x-ray revealed the fracture.
“I was out for about six weeks and started up tentatively again in mid-November. Then I had a spell of training in Spain, which was good and helped a lot.
“Now I’ve had about eight weeks of getting back to normal. I still feel the knee at times when it stiffens up a bit, but it’s quite manageable.
“I’m now focussing on the remainder of the cross country season starting with the Inter District race then the national championships at the end of February.”
Douglas is also beginning to put plans in place for the mountain and trail running season later in the year.
First up is a possible outing in the inaugural European Athletics off-road running championships at El Paso on the Spanish island of La Palma on July 1-3.
He said: “There’s a variety of hill and trail races being held and I’m keen to be involved. It’s the island which was affected by a volcanic eruption last year, but the organisers are confident there won’t be a problem.”
Douglas then aims to return to Iceland where, last summer, he made a successful ultra distance debut, winning the Laugavegur 55km mountain race in a time of 4hr 10min 36secs.
He said: “I really enjoyed this one, so hopefully I can go back and maybe spend a bit more time there. It was a great race.”
Douglas has won the Mountain Running World Cup race series on a couple of occasions in the past, but work commitments are likely to prevent a repeat of those successes this summer.
He said: “I might be able to do one or two of them just to get some competitive races but I won’t have the time to do the whole series.”
Stephen and Bruce in the mix
European under-20 cross country champion Megan Keith has pulled out of this weekend’s national Inter District cross country championships at Irvine’s Beach Park
The Inverness Harriers club member is concentrating on preparing to represent Scotland in the Celtic Nations international match in Northern Ireland the following weekend.
Dufftown’s Scottish hill race series champion Jill Stephen (Hunters Bog Trotters) is to represent the East District in the women’s race along with Fraserburgh half marathon champion Claire Bruce (Metro Aberdeen).
Catriona Fraser-Lennox (Inverness Harriers) leads the North women’s team along with Kirstie Rogan (Highland Hill Runners), Sarah Attwood (Skye and Lochalsh) and Emma Murray (JS Kintore).
Zoe Bates (Aberdeen University) is in the Scottish Students representative team along with Aberdeen twins Kirsty and Caitlin Purcell and East Sutherland’s Constance Nankivell (all Edinburgh University).
Moray’s Kenny Wilson leads the North men’s team and he is joined in the squad by fellow Scotland internationals Ross Gollan (East Sutherland) and John Newsom (Inverness Harriers).
Edinburgh-based Aberdonian Sasha Chepelin is one of the leading runners in the East District men’s side which also includes Aberdeen AAC’s Aaron Odentz.
Fraserburgh’s Max Abernethy has withdrawn from the Scottish Student representative team.
The Aberdeen University mechanical engineering undergraduate sustained a minor foot injury when winning the North District title in December.
Although he is well along the road to recovery, Abernethy doesn’t feel quite ready to compete yet and will now focus on next month’s British Universities and Colleges cross country championships hosted by Brunel University at Horsenden Hill, Middlesex.
Aberdeen University’s Tom Graham-Marr and Strathpeffer athlete Hamish Hickey (Stirling University) are included in the student line-up.
Linton relishing Hamilton test
Struan Linton (Aberdeen AAC) is to face multiple Scottish champion sprinter Allan Hamilton (Edinburgh AC) in Sunday’s open graded meeting at Aberdeen Sports Village.
The duo will go head-to-head in a couple of 60m races which promise to be the highlights of the meeting which has attracted a healthy number of entries from all over the country.
Linton opened his winter season with a personal best 60m time of 6.97secs in Aberdeen last month.
Hamilton, who is a three-time winner of the national indoor 60m title and is the current Scottish outdoor 100m champion, has a PB of 6.74 from 2017. He recorded 6.97 last weekend when competing in the Scottish open meeting at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
Linton said: “I’m very happy that Allan is coming up to race. It’s great to have someone there who has so much experience and has achieved so much.
“We are good mates but I’ll not be scared of him. I want to go out and do the best I can.
“Since the December meeting I’ve worked on a few aspects of my sprints and made some adjustments to my start. So, I’m ready to go.”
Linton and Hamilton’s opposition includes Aberdeen AAC runners David Irvine, James McIntosh and Liam Suttie 7.17 as well as Pitreavie’s Rory Voss.
The women’s 60m features the Scottish outdoor 100m and 200m champions in the shape of Roisin Harrison (Aberdeen AAC) and Taylah Spence (Orkney AC). Aberdeen AAC’s Rebecca Matheson and Jane Davidson should also be in the mix for fast times.