Robbie Simpson hopes he won’t have to pay to get into London’s Kew Gardens for tomorrow’s Great Britain Olympic marathon trial race.
The Banchory athlete is one of just 15 men and 17 women taking part in the elite-only event being held under strict controls to meet Covid guidelines.
The race is taking place on a 13-lap circuit of the Royal Botanic Gardens situated on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond. No spectators will be allowed.
The runners will negotiate a short loop of 1.6km before tackling 12 laps of 3.3km, then closing off with a 550m sprint to the finish in front of the iconic Palm House.
Simpson arrived in London last night and was planning to examine the course beforehand, but revealed an unexpected additional expense.
He said: “We have to pay to get into the gardens. And apparently there’s a rule about not being allowed to run there, so we can only walk around the course.
“I’ve seen a video of the loop, but it will be good to see what it’s really like.”
Jokingly, he added: “I just hope we won’t be asked to pay again to get in tomorrow for the race.”
Scottish record-holder Callum Hawkins (Kilbarchan AAC), who was ninth at the Rio Olympics in 2016, has been pre-selected for Tokyo, leaving two further places up for grabs.
So the top two finishers in tomorrow’s event will be selected so long as they are inside the qualifying standard.
Simpson, who was bronze medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, said: “I’m happy with how my preparations have gone and I can get an idea of my form from the sessions I’ve done, but you can never be sure.
“I’ll just have to be careful to not start too fast, otherwise I might struggle towards the end. Equally, going too slow early on would mean the qualifying time might become out of reach.
“We’ll just have to see how it plays out.
“There’s a lot of people of similar ability to me, so hopefully there will be a group of us going at the right pace.
“Being realistic, it’s quite a big jump for me to make, but at the same time the field looks open. There’s a few good names there, but the marathon is always unpredictable.
“It’s an opportunity to run against a good field and if I run a decent race then I should be faster than I’ve been before.
“I feel fit enough to run my best race, then we’ll see what time comes out of it.”