Scotland international hill runner Hamish Battle wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest if the wintry weather hangs around for another few months.
The Banchory-based Metro Aberdeen member isn’t at all fazed by the snow and enjoys navigating his way around the whitened countryside on his daily runs.
And when he’s not running, Battle is equally happy hiking to the top of some of the local hills and snowboarding back down again.
He said: “I love the snow, so it can stay like this until April as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been finding snowy routes which are still possible to run on, although I have to admit that has become a bit harder in recent days.
“The conditions have been tough at times. I tried to get to the top of Hill of Fare recently. I was maybe a bit ambitious wearing shorts and, when I got about 100m from the top, my shins were being shredded as there was a crust of ice on top of the snow.
“I also enjoy snowboarding. In previous winters, I’d go to one of the ski centres and take the tow to the top of the hills, but that’s not possible at the moment.
“So, I recently hiked to the top of Pressendye and came back down on my snowboard. When I did the Pressendye hill race, it took me 39min to reach the top, but it took two hours walking through the snow.
“I guess I get a bit of fitness benefit from all that uphill hiking.”
Battle has made one hill racing appearance for Scotland, in the 2019 home countries international at Llanberis, but he’s desperate to establish himself in the national side on a more regular basis in future.
To assist with this goal, he has hooked up with top mountain running coach Sophie Dunnett, who has guided Caithness athlete Andy Douglas to success at world and European level.
Battle said: “If we get back to proper racing this year, my main aim would be to get another Scotland call-up.
“That’s why I asked Sophie to coach me and, although she only started recently, I’m already feeling the benefits.
Having her as a coach has added consistency and accountability to my training. These were attributes I lost last year.
“Despite the recent weather, I’ve managed to keep going with two quality sessions every week – a speed session on a Wednesday and hills on a Saturday with steady runs in between. I’m really enjoying it.”
Battle isn’t sure when he’ll get the chance to compete in a proper race again as Covid restrictions continue to sweep away most events.
He said: “Many of the races I planned to do this year have already been cancelled, including the Snowdon international in July.
“There’s supposed to be a hill race at Birnam in April, which will be an invitation-only event. There’s also possibly another at Stuc a’Chroin in Perthshire in May, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Battle was, however, able to compete in the recent scottishathletics virtual hill challenge, in which he posted the sixth-best performance of the 100 competitors.
Runners had to climb as many vertical feet as possible in 30 minutes and the Metro man managed 1,650ft of the 100 competitors.
He said: “I did it by lapping the first part of the Pressendye hill race course, which climbs about 100ft. I managed just over 16 laps, which wasn’t bad considering there was drifting snow and a headwind.
“I’m not a big fan of virtual events, but it’s a bit of fun. I also felt it was important to show face as the results of these might be used when deciding about invitations to real races with restricted entry numbers.
“I also want to stay sharp, so I’m ready to drop into a race at short notice. I’ll do any race that comes along.
“It doesn’t have to be a hill race, I’d be keen to do a 5k on the road.”