Banchory’s Robbie Simpson is sketching out his plans for 2022 – but the Birmingham Commonwealth Games are unlikely to feature on his schedule.
The Deeside athlete hit top form at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games when he mastered the stifling Australian heat to take bronze in the marathon.
But, despite his success on the road racing scene, Simpson has always preferred running on the trails and in the mountains.
He has been a regular member of the successful Great Britain mountain running team at previous world and European championships.
In 2015, he picked up a world championship individual bronze, having been European championship silver medallist 12 months earlier.
More recently, he has been carving out a reputation as a formidable competitor in much longer trail races.
Last month he finished second behind legendary Spanish athlete Kilian Jornet in the 31k Sierre-Zinal mountain run in Switzerland.
And a few weeks later he again took second position, this time behind Norway-based Brit Jon Albon, in the CCC 55k race at the prestigious Ultra Trail Mont Blanc festival.
He said: “I’m not really looking at any of the major marathons next year, including the Commonwealth Games.
“I’ve enjoyed doing marathons and I might come back to them further down the line. But for now I’m more into long runs in the mountains and I’m really enjoying it.
“When I was preparing for Sierre-Zinal and CCC, I didn’t get as many niggles as I did when training for marathons, which is obviously a good thing. Running off-road isn’t so damaging.
“At the moment there’s quite a number of opportunities in ultra-distance mountain and trail races and I want to make the most of them. So, I’m going to focus on races of 50-80k and see how that goes.”
Simpson is now preparing for next month’s Grand Trail des Templiers 80k ultra trail race at Millau, France, where he’ll come up against another top class field.
The course includes more than 3,000 metres of ascent as it winds its way through forested mountains and limestone plateaux within the spectacular setting of Grands Causses national park.
But he’s hoping for better luck than when he last tried to race there two years ago.
Simpson made the long journey to the south of France, but a severe storm accompanied by ferocious thunder and lightning forced organisers to cancel the event because of safety concerns.
He said: “It was such a long way to go for nothing, so fingers crossed the weather is ok this time.”
But before the French trip, he has a couple of warm-up races planned.
He said: “I’m in Austria this weekend for the Infinite Trails Relay. It’s meant to be a low-key event, but it still looks like it will be tough.
“I’m part of a three-man Adidas team and the leg I’m running is about 30k and includes 2,700 metres of climbing.
“I’m going to stay over in Austria for a week of training after the race. When I return I’ll probably do the Bennachie ultra 50k trail race, which will be part of my preparation for Grand Trail des Templiers.
“I feel I’ve fully recovered from the two big races last month, but we’ll see. If I feel tired in any of the next two races, I’ll scale back a bit.”
Crimond race returns
Fraserburgh’s Keith McIntyre, the 2019 winner, is among the top entrants for Sunday’s Crimond Runfest 6k, which is expected to attract a capacity field of 100.
All proceeds from the run, organised with support from Crimond Area Tenants and Residents Association, goes towards supporting projects in the village, which lies between Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
The race starts outside Crimond Parish Church and starts as soon as the kirk clock strikes noon. Entries will be taken on the day if places remain available.
Tole takes Rayne North 10k
Jim Tole (Metro Aberdeen) was a clear winner of the Rayne North 10k, completing the Aberdeenshire course in 34min 56secs to finish well clear of Mark Beagrie (Peterhead AC), 39:04, and Neil Murray, 40:52.
Alex Shaw won the women’s race in 44:54 followed by Amanda Stuart, 45:44, and Carolyn Milne, 46:44.
Beagrie Completed a busy day by winning the accompanying 5k in 18:07, while teenager Rhian Birnie (Young Meldrum Runners) led the women’s field in 21:17.