Metro Aberdeen’s Fiona Brian has been invited to compete in the Great Britain Olympic marathon trial at London’s Kew Gardens in March.
The Scotland road and cross country international is determined to make the most of the opportunity, despite admitting she’s not a serious contender for one of the three available places on the team for Tokyo.
Her best time is 2hr 42min 51secs set at Berlin in 2019, while the Olympic qualifying standard is 2:29:30.
Realistically it’s too large a gap to bridge, but Brian still has the incentive of trying to edge closer to the 2022 Commonwealth Games qualifying mark of 2:36:49
She said: “I’m excited about doing the trial as it’s the only race I’m likely to be able to do at the moment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will go ahead.
“There’s going to be some girls going for sub 2:30 pace, but I also expect quite a few to be in the 2:35-2:40 range, so my plan will be to go with them and see what happens.
“I’ll have to see how my training goes over the next few months. I was getting into good shape around Christmastime, but the weather since then has disrupted things a bit.
“It hasn’t been easy to find safe places to run fast because of all the icy conditions.
“Fortunately I bought a treadmill at the first lockdown, so that’s always an option, although I don’t particularly like to use it too often as I tend to run differently on it.
“My first aim in the London race will be to get under 2:40, but whether I can get close to the Commonwealth qualifying time remains to be seen.
“It’s certainly the sort of time I feel I can do, but I’m just not sure when I’ll be ready to do it.”
Brian knows that even if she was to achieve the Commonwealth standard, that might still not be enough to secure a place on the Scotland team for Birmingham 2022.
The standard of Scottish women’s marathon running is extremely high at the moment with three women having dipped under 2:30 over the past 15 months.
Steph Twell (2:26:40), Steph David (2:27:42) and Sarah Inglis (2:29:41) have all shown their capabilities, while Eilish McColgan also plans to step up to the event next year.
Brian said: “It’s great to see so many others doing well. Some of the times are incredible. I see this as a positive thing, particularly if you look at the progression some of them have made. It makes me think I can get faster as well.
“But I’d just be happy to eventually get the standard, whether that leads to anything or not.”
When Brian stands on the start line at Kew Gardens, she’ll be experiencing a very different style of marathon to any she has tackled before.
Her previous five marathons have all been in big city races with tens of thousands of participants.
She made her debut at London in 2016, recording 3:09:20, and returned there in 2017 to clock 2:53:50. Next up were outings in Chicago (2:48:47) and Boston (2:49:58), before setting her quickest time at Berlin.
The Kew Gardens race is an elite-only event restricted to 30 of Britain’s best marathon runners and will be held on a multiple 5.5k loop course.
The venue was selected due to its ability to minimise any issues that may arise as a result of the pandemic.
Brian said: “It will certainly be different, but it will be cool to be in with a small group of elite runners all going for fast times.
“I’m not sure if having to run a lot of loops will make it any harder. Certainly, with the other marathons I’ve done it has been quite good to break it down as you move from one part of the city to the next.
“Obviously that’s not happening this time, but I’ll just have to concentrate on ticking the laps off. I might have to practise it in training.
“But I’m not really bothered by that aspect. I’m just grateful to get the chance to compete in a race. Hopefully it will go ahead.”