Chris Richardson’s outing in today’s Cheshire elite marathon at Pulford, close to the England-Wales border, is a warm-up for an even bigger test in June.
The Metro Aberdeen runner is determined to improve on his best marathon time of 2hr 27min 41secs set at Windsor’s Dorney Lake last autumn.
But he also has his sights set on a good performance in the inaugural Moray Trail Coastal 50-mile race seven weeks later.
Richardson said: “The 50-miler comes along a little bit quicker after the marathon than I’d thought, but it should be fine.
“Some of my best performances have come relatively soon after a hard race, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.”
He certainly demonstrated his speedy powers of recovery in 2019 by setting a marathon PB of 2:30:46 at Tokyo in early March before improving to 2:28:38 at London eight weeks later.
Richardson, who set a record time when winning last year’s Speyside Way 36.5-mile ultra race, also has his eye on 100k success later in the year.
He said: “I’ve expressed an interest in the Scotland team for the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k. As there haven’t been many races, the selectors are just looking at people’s past performances.
“But there are a lot of people who have indicated they want to do it.”
More immediately, Richardson is focusing on tomorrow’s marathon.
He said: “I wasn’t entirely happy with my effort at Dorney Lake and felt it could have gone differently.
“It was partly due to the conditions and partly about how I managed the race.
“So, I’ve been keen to get another marathon since then and I certainly feel in better shape now. I’ve had a decent block of training and everything has gone well.
“My plan is to set out at 2:25 pace and at least maintain that all the way. It looks as though there will be a good number of sub 2:30 runners taking part, so there should be a good group to work with.
“The weather forecast is looking good as well, with a light wind and a temperature of about 10 degrees, so there’s no excuses.”
The Cheshire race will be held over a 7.59 lap course, but that’s not a factor which bothers Richardson.
He said: “A few years ago running more than seven laps would have been horrible.
“But I handled it at Dorney Lake and most other races which have gone ahead over the past year have been on multi-lap courses, so it’s fine.
“It’s actually better as it’s more controllable.
“You know exactly what’s coming up, so it takes away any uncertainty.
Richardson’s girlfriend Kirsty Mitchell, who also represents Metro Aberdeen, is competing in the women’s division of the Cheshire race.
He said: “She ran 3:03:16 at Lake Dorney, but I feel she’s ready to go under three hours this weekend.”
A third Metro member, Will Mackay, is also in the line-up. He won the Dorney Lake race last year in 2:26:14, but has a best time of 2:24:51 from Frankfurt in 2015.
Lairig Ghru attracts top-notch field
This year’s Lairig Ghru race, scheduled to go ahead on June 27, has attracted one of the best line-ups in the mountain marathon’s long history.
Title-holder Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) had already expressed an interest in taking part in the 43k run between Braemar and Aviemore before entries opened earlier this week.
All 300 places were snapped up within a couple of hours, reflecting the enduring popularity of the event which was first held in 1976.
Among those to have signed up are 2019 West Highland Way race champion Rowan Boswood (Carnethy Running Club) and Great Britain ultra distance trail running international Tom Owens (Shettleston Harriers).
Other top-level runners who plan to compete include John Newsom (Inverness Harriers), Eoin Lennon (Carnethy), Tom Martyn (Hunters Bog Trotters) and John Yells (Lochaber AC).
Kerry Prise (Metro Aberdeen), who won the women’s race in 2019, aims to return and her opponents include the 2020 runner-up Hollie Orr (Black Combe) and Ireland international Nicol Duncan (Carnethy).