After being unable to compete for more than 18 months Max Abernethy is now looking forward to his second road race inside one week.
A combination of injuries and Covid lockdowns had prevented the 20-year-old Fraserburgh distance running prospect from tackling any serious events since October 2019.
But he showed few signs of rustiness when winning the Back-to-Basics 10k at Forres last weekend and he’ll aim for another victory in tomorrow’s Fraserburgh 10k.
Abernethy took an early lead at Forres and went on to take top spot in 31min 34secs – an improvement of 28secs on his previous best set at the 2019 River Ness race.
He said: “I’m happy as it was my first race back. I would have liked to have been a bit faster, but it turned out to be pretty much a solo effort after the first mile.
“I struggled a bit running into the wind over the final two miles, but I knew I had a decent lead and was never worried about being caught.”
“When I’m on my own at the front, I find it hard to be motivated to keep working away. I was running at sub 5min mile pace until 4 miles, but struggled to keep it up after that.”
Abernethy will tomorrow aim to defend the Fraserburgh title he won when the race was last held, in 2019. His winning time on that occasion was 34:19, but he should be much quicker this time out.
Ben Ward completed a satisfactory weekend’s work by finishing runner-up behind Abernethy at Forres.
The Metro Aberdeen runner’s time of 31:49 sliced four secs off his previous best set at River Ness in 2019.
But, just 36 hours earlier, he had also achieved a 3,000m track PB of 8:51.53 at Linwood. That came on top of a 5,000m best of 15:13.73 at Manchester the previous weekend.
Shaun Cumming of Highland Hill Runners was third in 31:54, with another Fraserburgh runner, Keith McIntyre, fourth in 32:16. McIntyre also plans to compete tomorrow.
The Fraserburgh race has a limited field of 100 runners due to Covid restrictions and all the places were filled within 13 minutes of entries opening.
While Abernethy is favourite to win the men’s division of the race, there’s the possibility of an interesting battle for the women’s title with the Metro Aberdeen duo Ginie Barrand and Claire Bruce having entered.
Barrand has a best time of 35:44 set at the 2019 River Ness 10k, while Bruce’s quickest is 35:53 at Glasgow’s Great Scottish Run in 2017.
Metro’s Kelly smashes Strathearn marathon mark
Jason Kelly’s preparations for his Scotland international ultra distance debut received an early boost when he smashed the course record in the Strathearn marathon.
The Metro Aberdeen runner is to represent his country in the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k in August.
And he kickstarted his preparations with an emphatic win in Perthshire, clocking 2hr 33min 07secs to slash six mins off the previous record which had stood since 2013. He was also 10mins quicker than his winning time at the same venue in 2019.
He said: “I’m really pleased with that. I said beforehand I’d be happy if I could win in 2:34 or 2:35 and come out of it feeling good. So I’ve managed to do it a little quicker and I think my legs are fine.
“Now it’s a case of focusing on the 100k later in the summer.”
Kelly’s dad, Neill, also didn’t do so badly, finishing eighth overall from a field of 150 runners in 2:49:47. He was, however, pipped to the over-50’s age group prize by Rob Soutar, who was 11secs ahead.
Kelly senior is preparing for the British masters marathon championships in October.
Cooper feeling prepared for world trials
Oldmeldrum’s Meryl Cooper is satisfied that her preparations are going well for the world ultra distance trail running championships trials in the Lake District next month.
The north-east athlete will tackle a 100km course at the English race with the aim of securing a place on the Great Britain team for the world event in Thailand later in the year.
Cooper finished second in the Dearg Up n’ Doon 30k trail race at Blair Atholl in what was her final race before the trials.
Garscube’s Katie White won in 2hr 49min 24secs, while Cooper came through in 2:55:53.
She said: “It went well, but I was thinking about keeping something in reserve for next week’s training. I didn’t want to destroy myself trying to catch Katie. So I decided to rein it in a little bit.
“I’m happy with my form as it’s all about being ready for the trial now.”
There was also success at the Blair Atholl event for Metro Aberdeen’s Scott Macleod, who won the men’s 10k race in 38:22.