Chris Richardson was relieved to finally get a marathon under his belt in 2020 after 14 previous attempts fell by the wayside because of postponements and cancellations.
The Metro Aberdeen runner showed good form in last weekend’s Dorney Lake marathon in Buckinghamshire, where he finished third in a personal best time of 2hr 27min 41secs. His clubmate Will Mackay won in 2:26:14.
Plans to run at London (twice), Brighton (twice), Manchester (twice), Blackpool (twice), Edinburgh (twice), Chicago, Amsterdam, Chester and Wrexham all fell by the wayside before he was finally able to lace up his racing shoes last weekend.
Richardson was reasonably satisfied with his performance, which delivered an improvement of 57secs on his previous best set at London in 2019.
He said: “I was fortunate to be in a group of three and we went through halfway just outside the 73min mark. I had hoped to push on from there, but it ended up being a bit slower, which is a little disappointing.
“It was a very well organised event, but conditions weren’t ideal as it was windy, cold and wet.”
Richardson is now contemplating a step up to ultra distance events and plans to dip his toe in the water by competing in next month’s Speyside Way 59k trail race between Ballindalloch and Spey Bay.
“I still have unfinished business with the marathon as I wanted to get under 2:25 before moving on. So I’ll look for another one in the spring.
“But I’m aiming to shift my focus towards ultras and for a start I’ll be doing the Speyside Way. I’m looking on it as a pressure-free first attempt at an ultra rather than as a serious attempt.
“I’m looking eventually move towards 100k races and in a few years from now I’d like to do the Comrades 89k marathon in South Africa.”
Richardson was upstaged to some extent at Dorney Lake by his girlfriend Kirsty Mitchell, who slashed 10min off her previous best time when finishing 12th in the women’s division of the run in 3:03:16.
Richardson said: “She was hoping for three hours, but she did well. A couple of months ago it didn’t look as though there was going to be a race for her and she switched off a bit.
“She might still have done it at Dorney with a faster final lap, but I’m sure she’ll get it next time. Her focus now is to prepare for a spring marathon.”
North-east’s Will wins Dorney Lake event
Will Mackay was seriously disappointed with his performance despite winning Buckinghamshire’s Dorney Lake marathon ahead of a field of 600 runners.
The Metro Aberdeen runner completed the four-lap course in 2hr 26min 14secs to finish 63secs ahead of Poolewe’s Jack Blaiklock.
It’s the third fastest marathon Mackay has run, his best being the 2:24:51 clocked at Frankfurt in 2016. He was, however, hoping for significantly better.
Mackay said: “I’m a bit hacked off because I don’t feel as though I’ve really raced. I thought I was in better shape than that, but it never worked out.
“I was on my own from the gun, so it was more like a time trial. Conditions weren’t great either. I’ve never done a marathon before in which I’ve been so cold after eight or nine miles. My legs just seized up and I couldn’t push any harder.
“It was a four-lap course, which was fine, but I just got gradually slower on each lap. I’d hoped to go through halfway in around 70 min, but I was over 71.
“My personal best time is pretty poor and I was two mins outside that. I felt I’d prepared well enough, but I just need a bit more luck.
“It’s not easy as it’s not possible to go out and do another one the following weekend. I need to take a few weeks to recover before thinking about what’s next. But everything is so uncertain, it’s not possible to plan ahead with any confidence.”
Meanwhile, there was success for another Metro Aberdeen runner at the Big Flat Runway marathon at Elvington in Yorkshire.
Hazel Wyness finished second in the women’s division of the run in 3:14:22, while the race was won by Pontefract AC’s Alice Smith in 3:12:25.
Conditions were far from ideal with competitors having to contend with a troublesome wind on the exposed course, which featured 10 laps of the former airfield.
Tom Roche (JS Kintore) was third in the men’s 40-45 age group when placing 10th overall in 2:35:47, while Graham Moar (Metro Aberdeen) was 69th in 3:18:20.