Deeside’s Robbie Simpson plans to compete in the inaugural Cairngorm Ultra Trail run which is scheduled to go ahead on June 5.
It will be the Banchory athlete’s first race since finishing sixth in the British Olympic marathon trial at Kew Gardens last month.
Simpson may have missed out on a trip to Tokyo, but the Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist is looking forward to tackling a race much closer to home.
The Cairngorm event is to be held over a 62km course taking in a circular tour of the Ben Avon plateau, starting and finishing at Mar Lodge near Braemar.
Simpson hasn’t yet started his preparations for the race as he is still recovering from the marathon.
He said: “I’m at the stage where I’m beginning to increase the amount of running I’m doing, but it will still be another week or two until I’m back into the full volume of training.
“But it’s going in the right direction. I don’t have any major issues and it’s just a case of slowly building up again.
“It can sometimes be a mistake to get back into hard training too soon. I’m just getting some easy runs done and I’ll gradually increase the volume before I add in the quality again.
“So, I’m running off-road a lot and getting in some hills, but it’s all at a relatively easy effort at the moment.”
The Cairngorm race ticks a lot of boxes for the Great Britain mountain running international, who is considering some bigger international ultra distance tests later in the year.
He said: “It’s a local event which is being held for the first time, so that’s exciting. I have been on parts of the course before and, although I know where the rest of it goes, I haven’t run it.
“It’ll be good to do something that’s new and different. The Cairngorms is one of my favourite places to run, so I’m happy to give it a go, especially as there aren’t many opportunities to compete further afield at the moment.
“It will be interesting, because the first part of the route is in the area where I took the wrong path in the Lairig Ghru race last year, so hopefully I’ll get it right this time.
“I might go out and check different parts of the course beforehand. It will depend on the weather as there’s probably still a fair amount of snow there at the moment. But if there’s good weather closer to the race date, I might head out.
“It should be easy enough to follow the route as most of it is on good trails.
“There’s about 1,100metres of climbing, which spread over 62k isn’t too bad. There’s really only two main climbs. The first comes at the beginning, while the highest point is reached about 15k from the end which is quite tough at that stage.”
Simpson has some experience of racing beyond the marathon distance, having won last year’s Bennachie 50k ultra trail race and also finishing fifth in a 50-mile trail run in Northern California in 2019.
He said: “The Cairngorm race will suit me. It’s a manageable step up in distance from the Bennachie race, but is shorter than the one I did in California, which was a bit uncomfortable for me at that time.
“So it should suit my strengths, coming off a long spell of marathon training, as it will be relatively fast for an ultra race.”
While Simpson is happy to be competing on familiar home ground, he is also eyeing up some major international opportunities in the second half of the year.
He said: “I’d like to do one of the races at the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc event in August as it seems as though it will be going ahead.
“It doesn’t look as though there will be a normal European mountain running season, so I’ll go for UTMB if it’s on.
“I’m also interested in the world mountain and ultra trail running championships to be held in Thailand in November.
“I’m waiting to hear when the trials for that are to be held.”
Metro athlete sets 10k mark in scottishathletics virtual road race
Metro Aberdeen’s Will Mackay set the fastest 10k time in the latest scottishathletics virtual road race series.
The former two-time national track 10,000m champion recorded 31:06.
Hannah Taylor (Ellon AAC) was fourth fastest in the under-15 girls’ 4k with 15:30, while Jessica Needs (Peterhead AC) was fifth in the under-13 girls’ 3k in 12:26.
Hollie Steele (Peterhead AC) was fifth in the under-11 girls’ 1.5k in 6:08.