Meryl Cooper is finally able to tell her friends that she’s going to Thailand later in the year to represent Great Britain in the world ultra distance 80k trail running championships.
The Oldmeldrum athlete’s place in the six-strong national squad has been confirmed almost a month after she won the official trial in the Lake District.
She said: “I knew much earlier that I had been picked and I was allowed to tell my nearest and dearest.
“But you want to get it out there and let everyone know. It has taken a long time, but at least it’s now official.”
With the big race still three months away, Cooper has flown to France to prepare for another major event.
She is to compete in the CCC – the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix 101k, which is part of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc race series, at the end of the month.
The race, which includes a frightening 6,100m of climbing, starts in the Italian community of Courmayeur, passes through Champex in Italy and finishes in the French town of Chamonix.
Cooper has already flown out to France to complete her preparations.
She said: “I’ll be staying near Chamonix so I’ll be able to train on the course. It’s important to be out here early to prepare properly.
“I did this race in 2019 when I finished 13th and the standard is very high again this year. I’m not highly ranked at all, as it’s a truly world-class field.”
Cooper will return to the north-east immediately after the race to begin the countdown towards the world championships.
She said: “I’ll have plenty of time to recover then start building up again for Thailand.”
Cooper hasn’t decided whether she will defend her title in October’s Bennachie 50k ultra race.
She said: “I’d love to do it, but it depends whether it fits in with my preparations. I’ll see how well I’ve recovered from the CCC.”
5k run will accompany Chris Smith memorial unveiling
A 5k run is to be held on the same day as the unveiling of a lasting memorial to a top north-east runner.
Chris Smith, a prominent member of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland mountain racing team for many years, lost his life while running in the Perthshire hills last October. He died from hypothermia brought on by exposure.
The popular athlete was raised at Daviot in Aberdeenshire, attended Inverurie Academy, and was a stalwart of Aberdeen AAC cross country and track teams before moving south of the border to take up a post as a civil servant in London.
He lived with wife Lindsay and young sons, Cameron and Alastair, in Haywards Heath, Sussex.
Now many of Chris’s relatives and friends, along with the local community in Daviot, are organising a 5k to be held on Saturday August 28 in the area he knew so well as a youngster.
The run will follow an undulating two-lap course featuring a mixture of grass, gravel paths and tarmac roads on Daviot Community Trust land and the neighbouring Daviot House Estate.
On the same day, a poignant memorial to Chris will be formally revealed. It’s a sensitive renovation of the dilapidated old pump house within the grounds of Daviot House, encompassing a deck and seating area.
The south wall of the pump house will feature a plaque of a running man, with wording to be chosen by Chris’s widow, Lindsay.
The cost was met through a fundraising initiative which attracted donations from more than 100 people.
Any surplus funds will be given to the Chris Smith Memorial Fund – a separate campaign, which has so far raised over £20,000.
Runners from all over the country are planning to take the trip to the north-east to be part of the occasion.
Roisin in red-hot form for Scottish championships
Aberdeen AAC sprinter Roisin Harrison is rounding into peak form at just the right time.
The Scottish championships take place at Grangemouth stadium 10 days from now and the former Ireland junior international appears ready to add to her medal collection.
When the championships were last held, in 2019, she won the 200m in a personal best time of 24.06.
But at the recent Glasgow sprint gala, Harrison clocked a winning wind-assisted time of 23.81. And in the 100m she equalled her lifetime best of 11.99.
Robert Gordon University student Taylah Spence was also in fine form at the Glasgow meet. The Orcadian recorded a legal 100m best of 12.10 and a wind-assisted 200m of 24.73.
Meanwhile, Kai Crawford improved his own Aberdeen AAC under-17s 1500m record when recording 3:56.51 in the Glasgow Milers meeting.
That’s an improvement of just over one sec on his previous mark set at Grangemouth earlier in the month.
Twins Kirsty and Caitlin Purcell improved their best times in the women’s 1500.
Kirsty recorded 4:33.33 to knock a little over five secs off her previous best, while Caitlin was timed at 4:36.67, an improvement of seven secs. They now sit sixth and 10th respectively on the Aberdeen AAC under-20 women’s all-time best performers list.