When Jason Kelly took up running to lose a bit of weight and improve his general fitness, he could never have imagined that a little more than five years later he’d be representing Scotland in an ultra-distance race.
But later this summer that’s exactly what the 25-year-old Metro Aberdeen member will be doing when he travels to Ireland as part of a five-man national team.
Kelly has been picked to represent his country in the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100k at the Mondello Park Motor Circuit, Naas, County Kildare.
He is one of three Metro runners in the squad, with Chris Richardson also making his international debut alongside experienced campaigner Kyle Greig.
Kelly said: “When I started running this would never have crossed my mind. It took me over four hours to run my first marathon but since then the whole thing has just got out of hand.
“Obviously I’m absolutely delighted but there’s a chunk of relief as well because for the past 13-14 months I’ve been working hard towards this goal. So, I’m really pleased it has paid off.”
Kelly has certainly made his mark on the Scottish ultra-distance scene prior to the various lockdowns of the past year, by producing a couple of excellent performances.
He won the 2020 Dee 33 race from Aberdeen to Banchory and back in one of the quickest times recorded for the course.
And in 2019 he set a record performance in the Nocturnal six-hour race at Hedderwick farm near Dunbar, completing 16 laps of the 5km multi-terrain course in 6hr 14min 29secs.
A couple of months ago he clocked up the fastest known time for a solo run along the while Deeside Way, from Ballater to Aberdeen, completing the 70k journey in 4hr 45min 46sec.
Breaking seven hours is the aim
Kelly acknowledges that the 100k race in Ireland will be the longest run he has tackled, but he’s confident of being ready for the test.
He said: “I did 80k in the six hour race and I’ve previously done a 79k run from Stonehaven to the tip of Mount Keen, but the race in Ireland will be the furthest I’ve run in one go.
“My legs were in bits for three or four days after I did the Deeside Way run and I took a couple of weeks off.
“But my training has been going well since then. I’m back running 100+ miles a week and I’m feeling strong. I’ve been doing some 10k time trials on my own and they’ve gone well so I have a bit of sharpness too.
“I’ve been doing a lot of runs in the 30-42k range and the longest single run I’ll do before the 100k will probably be around 64k.”
Kelly’s target is to complete the 100k in under seven hours, a feat achieved by only six Scottish runners.
He said: “That has to be the aim, it’s an obvious landmark and I’m confident I can get close to it.”
Already putting in the miles
Jason Kelly is celebrating his first Scotland call-up by competing in this weekend’s Strathearn marathon at Comrie,Perthshire.
The Metro Aberdeen runner is training hard for the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k race in August when he’ll pull on national colours for the first time.
He is already putting in the long hard miles to ensure he’s in peak shape for what promises to be the biggest day of his athletics career so far.
But he has taken his foot off the accelerator just a little to prepare for tomorrow’s marathon which he hopes will deliver a confidence-boosting result.
He said: “I won this race two years ago when I recorded 2hr 43min 35secs. It’s by no means a fast course as it climbs a few hundred metres over the opening 10k and after that it’s all slightly undulating.
“In any case, it’s not going to be an all-out effort this weekend as I don’t want to spend too long recovering from it as I want to keep going with my 100k preparations.
“Although I’m sure I can run much faster than in 2019, I’m trying not to put down a target time as I just want a good, long tempo effort.
“So, I’m not going to worry too much about the numbers. The success of my run will be measured by how quickly I recover from it.
“I don’t have any other races planned between now and the 100k as I want to keep completely focussed. But, if there were some shorter local events popping up, I might give one or two a go.”