Scotland hill running international Hamish Battle has been building his endurance base by working as a tattie roguer on a local farm.
It’s an arduous job which involves walking between 10 and 15 miles each day, rooting out diseased plants lurking among the seed potato crops.
At the end of a long shift, the Metro Aberdeen club member is happy to change into his running gear and set off into the north-east hills to clock up another good few miles.
Battle said: “I’ve been doing tattie roguing for the past seven years on a farm near Auchnagatt.
“It’s for about six weeks every summer and I usually work from 8am to 5pm each day, although sometimes we go on until 8pm.
“On top of that I’m running between 40 and 50 miles a week and most of it is up in the hills.”
Battle was in good form at the start of the year, but then picked up an injury just before lockdown was imposed.
He said: “The injury came on after the Inverness half marathon in March.
“I was struggling to run, but I got on my bike and was cycling up to 200 miles a week for the first four to six weeks of lockdown.
“I was then able to gradually build up my running again.
“To add a bit of interest, in the absence of any races, I tried to get as much elevation into my runs as possible.
“A few of the other hill runners in Scotland were doing this and one week I managed to get 17,000ft of climbing done. I found one climb of 1,500ft in about one mile of running.
“I’ve also done a triple climb of Mither Tap at Bennachie in one run. That’s about 1,000ft of climbing each time.
“But I don’t feel I’m quite back to where I was fitness-wise before lockdown.
“My climbing is ok, but I haven’t been doing any proper speedwork. I’m just building a good base.”
When competitions restart, Battle will be aiming to add to the success he enjoyed in 2019 when winning his first Scotland vest.
He made his debut in the home countries international at Llanberis last September, finishing 22nd from an elite field of 40 competitors.
That led to the Robert Gordon University physiotherapy student securing a sponsorship deal with a shoe company. The first kit drop arrived on his doorstep last week.
He said: “It’s cool. I signed a deal with Hoka and they are supplying me with training and racing shoes.
“I think I got it on the back of that Scotland appearance as they were looking for some runners to be ambassadors for their product.”
Battle is now looking forward to getting back into competitive action over the next few months.
He said: “One of my main aims is to do the Scottish championship race combined with the home countries international again in September.
“No definite venue has been announced yet, but it’s going to be somewhere in Perthshire.
“Hopefully it’ll be able to go ahead by that time.
“There’s been talk of it maybe being done on a time trial basis if it can’t be held as a proper race.It’s an uphill-only run, so doing it that way wouldn’t be a problem. It would be quite fun.
“Either way, getting into the Scotland team for it will be pretty tough as the race is also the Great Britain trial for the world mountain running championships later in the year.
“So there’s certain to be a top-class field.
“I’m not sure how the team will be selected as there haven’t been any races. It’s possible that it could be done virtually.
“One suggestion is that a route at Ben Lomond would be identified and we could all go there and run it and record our times within a set spread of dates.
“I prefer that idea to the usual virtual races where you can choose a hill in your local area.
“That doesn’t allow performances to be compared on an equal basis.”