Chris Richardson is relishing being given the opportunity to represent his country for the first time – but admits to being slightly nervous about making his Scotland debut later this year.
The Speyside Way ultra race champion and course record-holder is one of three Metro Aberdeen club members included in the five-man national team named for the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100k road race in Ireland on August 21.
He’ll be joined by fellow international debutant Jason Kelly and the vastly experienced Kyle Greig.
Richardson said: “I’m a bit apprehensive, but it’s exciting to be given this opportunity and I want to make a good go of it.
“It will be the longest race I’ve done. My only ultra so far was the Speyside Way run, which was about 59k, so it’s quite a step up.”
Richardson is making meticulous plans to ensure he’s in the best possible shape for the race.
He has been picking up training tips by examining the training methods of some of the world’s best ultra distance runners, including the north-east’s multiple world record-holder Don Ritchie, who passed away three years ago.
Richardson said: “I’ve been reading his autobiography to see what training he did. I couldn’t cope with the mileage he ran, but there’s still lots of useful information there.
“The longest single run I plan to do is 60-65k, but I’ll also include a couple of 50k runs and some weekends I’ll do 30k on successive days. But I’ll not be neglecting doing some speed sessions as well.
“I’ll also be paying more attention to the nutritional side of things as it’s important to get the refuelling right in such a long race. So I’ll be experimenting with that in training.”
Prior to his international call-up, Richardson was planning to compete in next month’s Moray Way 50-mile race, but that will now in all likelihood be put to the side.
He said: “I’ll probably not do it. I worry that it would set my 100k preparations back by a few weeks as I’d be recovering from it and wouldn’t be able to put in any quality training.
“I’m not bothered if I don’t get any races before the 100k, although if something like a half marathon was to come along about four or five weeks beforehand, I’d probably do it.”
The 100k is to be held on a motor racing circuit near Dublin, raising the prospect of competitors having to run on a multiple-lap course.
It’s not something that troubles Richardson, as he explained: “I haven’t got any details yet, but I’ve looked at the layout and it seems there’s a variety of possible configurations.
“It doesn’t bother me now that we might be running numerous laps. It actually makes the logistics easier as you know you’ll be passing drinks tables on a regular basis, so you don’t have to worry about that aspect of it.”
Despite his relative inexperience at ultra racing, Richardson is determined he’s not going to Ireland simply to make up the numbers.
He said: “I want to race and I want to finish as high up the field as possible. If we could get a Scotland 1-2-3, and it was all Metro runners, that would be ideal.
“As far as a finishing time goes, seven hours seems to be the benchmark and I feel that’s something I could achieve.”
“I want to see what I can do. I tend to perform relatively better in longer races, so it’ll be interesting to find out just what my best distance might be.”
Ward heads to Forres on back of 5,000m PB
Ben Ward tuned up for this Sunday’s Back-to-Basics 10k road race at Forres by setting a personal best 5,000m track time in a British Milers Club grand prix meeting in Manchester.
The Metro Aberdeen runner clocked 15min 13.73secs to scythe almost 30secs off his previous best set last September.
Ward’s opponents in this weekend’s race include clubmate Will Mackay, who is competing for the first time since recording 2:28:54 at the Cheshire elite marathon in April.
Fraserburgh’s Max Abernethy is another contender for one of the top finishing positions. The Broch athlete hasn’t tackled a 10k race since setting his best time of 32:02 at Inverness in October 2019, but is keen to get back into action.
Aberdeen AAC’s Aaron Odentz will be aiming to improve on his best time of 32:30 set on the same Forres course last December.
Ginie Barrand (Metro Aberdeen) has entered the women’s race in which Great Britain cross country international Megan Keith (Inverness Harriers) will start as favourite if she decides to run.