Banchory marathon runner Robbie Simpson hopes the harsh winter weather hasn’t hampered his chances of selection for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Deeside athlete is to compete in an elite-only trial race at London’s Kew Gardens on March 26, with the top two finishers guaranteed selection if they can achieve the qualifying standard of 2hr 11min 30sec.
Simpson, who secured Commonwealth Games bronze in the searing heat of Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018, has a best time of 2:14:56 set at London in 2019.
He feels he’s in good shape, but admits the arctic conditions in and around his Banchory home since the beginning of the year has affected his training.
Simpson said: “The weather has definitely impacted on what I wanted to do.
“There seems to have been some form of snow or ice around for the past eight weeks. I’ve had to adapt my plans by checking the weather forecast and moving my sessions around so I could do certain runs on days when conditions maybe weren’t so bad.
“I’d get up early some days and go out to check the roads and trails to see where it might be possible to run.
“But over the past couple of weeks a lot of my sessions had to be done indoors on the treadmill. It’s not ideal, but I’m glad I have it. I don’t like it for really fast running as it seems so much harder than outside, but it was fine for tempo runs at or around marathon pace.
“Last weekend I ran 37k on it at just below marathon pace.
“I forgot, however, that it switches off after 1hr 40min so it suddenly came to a halt and I crashed into the front of the machine. I had to get it going again as quickly as possible.”
The Kew Gardens trial is restricted to the top 25-30 British runners, who will complete laps of a 3.3k course in front of only a handful of officials and support crew.
That will pose its own challenges as the event will be lacking the usual electric atmosphere of a big city race.
Simpson said: “It will be hard, particularly running so many laps, but maybe I’ve built in additional mental toughness from running indoors on a treadmill.
“There’s still five weeks to go until the race and, if I can get an uninterrupted spell of training done over that period, I would like to have a go at getting the qualifying time. I’m just not sure if I have done enough training sessions at the necessary pace so far.
“I would like to have been able to get a few races done just to be able to judge more accurately where I am at in terms of fitness, but obviously nothing has been happening.”