Bryan Kinghorn has put down a significant long-distance marker for others to try to beat.
The Metro Aberdeen runner was frustrated that most of the races he planned to do in 2020 were cancelled, so he set a personal challenge deliberately designed to take him well beyond his comfort zone.
He decided to run the length of the Deeside Way – site of the popular annual D33 race – from Ballater’s Victorian railway station to Aberdeen’s Duthie Park.
And, prior to the lockdown restrictions, he successfully completed the journey in 6hrs 49sec, averaging 8min 18secs for the 44-mile route.
It was an impressive effort from the 34-year-old, who has never previously run further than a standard marathon of 26 miles 385 yards.
Kinghorn said: “There were no races to train for, so I wanted a challenge that would give me something to focus on and to keep me motivated.
“I’ve been on most parts of the Deeside Way over the years, so it was always niggling in the back of my mind that one day I might do the whole thing.
“The only stretch I hadn’t previously done was between Aboyne and Banchory, so I checked it out beforehand and I’m glad I did as it was a tough slog.”
Before setting off, Kinghorn checked to see whether any other runners had set a standard for him to aim at.
He said: “There may have been some guys who ran it years ago, but I couldn’t find anything on the internet or social media about any record times.
“So, now I’ve done it, I can maybe claim to have the fastest known time – at least until someone else has a go.”
Kinghorn came within 49secs of cracking the six-hour barrier, but he’s not too worried by that.
He said: “To be honest, I wasn’t even looking at the watch towards the end. If I’d realised I was so close to six hours, I might have tried to do something, but I’m not sure if it would make much difference.
“All I was thinking about was finishing. I had felt quite comfortable until the marathon distance, but by about 29 miles my pace began to slow and the final 10 miles were tough.
“I had thought about doing a lap of Duthie Park at the finish, but when I got into the park and saw my wife and a few friends holding a pack of beer I decided to stop. So I’ve dipped my toes into ultra-distance running, but I’ll now get back to focusing on the marathon.”
Bryan hopes to complete set of world’s major marathons
Bryan Kinghorn hopes to complete the world majors marathon series over the next few years – but he’s also keen to race on his home patch.
The Metro club member has already completed four of the six majors, having run in London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. The final two, Boston and Tokyo, are on his shopping list for the near future.
He said: “I was meant to do Boston in 2020. It was due to be held in April before being postponed to October and then put back to 2021.
“I eventually did it as a virtual race between Kincardine O’Neil and Aberdeen and I got an unofficial personal best time of 2hr 44min 38secs. But I hope to do the real race probably next year.
“I also want to do Tokyo and I may revisit some of the others. But, if the Aberdeen marathon was to be reinstated, that’s one I’d definitely be signing up for.
“There’s no doubt 2020 was a difficult year. I was always having to adjust my training and targets in the hope that some races would happen.
“Despite that, before March, I managed to get PBs for 5k, 10k and the half-marathon. Then during lockdown I improved most of my times in unofficial virtual runs or time trials.
“It was just frustrating not to be able to do it in proper events, but at least it’s encouraging to know that I’ve been getting fitter despite not having any races.”
Kinghorn is keeping his fingers crossed the situation will improve soon.
He said: “I have a place in the Copenhagen marathon in mid-May so for now I’m preparing on the assumption it will go ahead. I also have a place in the London Marathon in October.”
Kinghorn hopes to build on the considerable progress he has made over the past three years.
In 2017 his best time was 3:46:07. He has slashed more than one hour from that, but believes there’s more to come.
He said: “I got myself a coach and my training has been much more structured over the past three years. I’m also very motivated and committed to it.
“Very little ever gets in the way. I fit it into my day and I’m often out running at 5am, sometimes earlier if needs be.
“There’s a good group of guys in Aberdeen who are improving their marathon times and I want to be part of that. I don’t see why I can’t be looking to get under 2:30 in the years ahead.”