Catriona Fraser-Lennox (Inverness Harriers) can look forward to next month’s Manchester marathon with confidence after producing a personal best performance in the Inverness half marathon.
The Alness-based athlete was the leading north finisher in the women’s division of the race when placing fifth behind Fife AC’s Annabel Simpson, who won in an outstanding time of 1:13:40.
Fraser-Lennox clocked 1:21:23, which is a 59secs improvement on her previous best set at Musselburgh last September. But she was made to work hard for the honour of being the leading north athlete as Kirstie Rogan (Highland Hill Runners) finished just a few secs behind
Now Fraser-Lennox is hoping to improve on her fastest marathon time of 2:58:02 achieved at London last October.
She said: “I overcooked the pace in the first three miles then went through a horrible phase until about seven miles before I found a second wind.
“Kirstie gave me a real battle and, when she passed me between mile 10 and 11, I thought she had me beaten.
“But she seemed to struggle going into the wind over the final mile and I began to catch up
“I know I always have a fast finish, so I managed to take her with about 150m to go on the track at the end.
“Everything seems to be going really well for Manchester and I’m looking forward to it. I’d like to get a personal best time, so if I get anything under 2:58, I’ll be absolutely delighted.
Rogan, who is better known for her exploits as a hill or cross country runner, made an impressive half marathon debut when completing the course in 1:21:28.
She also led Highland Hill Runners to victory in the team competition with support from Caroline Marwick (11th, 1:25:41) and Katie Wilson (25th, 1:31:38).
Claire Bruce (Metro Aberdeen), who is also targeting April’s Manchester marathon, was seventh in the women’s race in 1:22:08.
That’s well below her best, but the north-east runner had completed a 10-mile training run immediately before the half marathon.
She said: “I planned to do that as I wanted to run the half marathon at close to my hoped-for marathon pace and not any faster. It was tough, but I’m pleased with the way it went.”
Sean Chalmers (Inverness Harriers) scored a hard earned victory in the men’s race when clocking 1:06:16, while Kenny Wilson (Moray Road Runners) had to settle for fourth in 1:06:41.
Wilson helped his club finish third behind Corstorphine AAC and Shettleston Harriers in the team competition. His brother James was 13th in 1:09:38, while Andrew Rogan completed the scoring when finishing 51st in 1:16:49.
North athletes picked up a couple of age group awards with Amanda Blackhall (Lochaber AC) taking the women’s 50-59 prize in 1:37:10, while Rob Wynne (Garioch Road Runners) took top spot in the men’s 60-69 division in 1:25:31.
Megan Keith plays part in GB team win at world uni cross country event
Scottish under-20 champion Megan Keith (Inverness Harriers) helped Great Britain win team gold in the world universities’ cross country championships at Aveiro, Portugal.
The Edinburgh University sports science student, who won the European under-20 title in December, finished fifth in the 10k race.
The Brits dominated the race, with Isobel Fry and Saskia Millard taking gold and silver respectively, while the fourth counter, Kirsty Walker, was ninth.
And to complete a successful weekend for Inverness Harriers, Mhairi MacLennan won the UK inter counties senior women’s cross country title at Loughborough.
The Scottish champion, who lost one of her spiked shoes during the race, had to overcome a persistent challenge from Oxfordshire’s Jess Gibbon before securing victory.
The pair were joined by Kate Avery (North East England) and Jennifer Walsh (Yorkshire) for various stages of the contest, but, as the pace picked up over the challenging 8km course, Walsh dropped back, then Avery peeled off the group.
MacLennan said: “I knew I had to just keep going for it. The last time I was here I came third by one second, so I didn’t want to leave it too late so she (Gibbon) could outsprint me, because that’s what happened last time with Jess Piasecki.
“So I just pushed up the final hill, even though I lost one of my spikes. I know I’m good up hills and through mud, so I just kept pushing.”
MacLennan will now turn her attention to representing Scotland in the Cardiff half marathon at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Kirsty Law (Inverness Harriers) threw a season’s best of 56.78m when representing Great Britain in the European Throwing Cup at Leiria, Portugal.
Simpson wins Dee 33 race
Banchory’s Robbie Simpson tuned up for next month’s Scottish ultra trail running championships with an impressive victory in the Dee 33 mile race.
The Great Britain mountain international completed the course along the Deeside Way from Aberdeen’s Duthie Park to Banchory and back in 3hr 13min 48secs.
That’s the second quickest time recorded in the 12-year history of the event, but direct comparisons with the record of 3:10:40 set by Central AC’s Ross Houston in 2015 are difficult as the course is now roughly 800m longer.
Simpson said: “I wanted a good hard training run as part of my preparations for next month and that’s exactly how it turned out. It was tough, but I enjoyed it.
“The time was about five mins quicker than I thought I’d do, but I’m happy with how it went.
“I could maybe have pushed it more on the way out, with the wind behind, but that would have made it even tougher towards the end. It felt good running at that pace although the last 4k was really hard.”
“It went by quickly as I broke it up into chunks on the way out and the same on the way back. Although there was some headwind on the return, it was mainly a cross wind. And it was slightly downhill from Drumoak onwards.”
Newcastle-based Glaswegian Alan Hilley, winner of last September’s Ben Nevis ultra marathon, finished second in 3:26:49.
Metro Aberdeen’s Kyle Greig, who is to represent Scotland in next month’s Anglo Celtic Plate 100k, was third in 3:28:43.
Shetland’s Charlotte Black led home the women’s field when finishing 15th overall in 4:23:49.
Sam Rendall (Deeside Runners) was second in 4:43:12, with Nicola Dawson third in 5:03:21.