Jason Kelly has set himself a broad range of distance running targets for the year ahead following his victory in one of his favourite races.
The Metro Aberdeen member was runner-up in Fetteresso Forest marathon in each of the past two years but finally got the win he cherished in the latest edition of the challenging race held on the undulating woodland trails.
He finished second behind Banchorys’ Mike Mosgrove in the inaugural event in 2018, then seemed well on course to win last year before running out of fuel with only two miles remaining. Mosgrove stormed past to claim a second victory in a course record 2hr 50min 40secs.
It was a case of third time lucky as Kelly powered his way round the course in 2:52:41.
He said: “I’m delighted to get the win. The conditions were definitely tougher than last year with high winds and snow cover on large parts of the route, so I started off a bit more conservatively this time.
“By just after halfway I had opened up a small lead and worked out that if I pushed on, I’d have a chance of getting the course record.
“But I knew that would be running the risk of a repeat of last year and hitting a wall in the last three miles, so I decided to just keep it steady and make sure of the win.
“Once I got to the final section and still felt quite strong, I picked up the pace and ran hard for the last three miles, almost to prove a point that last year’s disaster was well and truly behind me.
“Breaking the tape at the finish line was a great feeling after being so close in previous years.”
Kelly doesn’t have much time to recover before heading to London to compete in next weekend’s Vitality Big Half Marathon which has attracted a top class line-up. He achieved his best time of 1:10:53 at the same venue last year and will be aiming to improve on that.
He said: “The Big Half is now the main focus and, because I ran fairly sensibly at Fetteresso, my legs are feeling great.
“So it hasn’t taken too much out of me. I’m feeling in excellent shape for the Big Half and excited to see what I can do there.”
After that Kelly will turn his attention to one of Scotland’s iconic mountain marathons, the Lairig Ghru race from Bramear to Aviemore, at the end of June.
He was third last year when Johnny Crickmore (Hunters Bog Trotters) set a record time of 3:02:41. But he has a number of other targets across a wide selection of distances
Kelly said: “The Lairig Ghru is a big summer target and I’m also considering attempting a 100km road race later in summer somewhere in Europe.”
Kelly wasn’t the only family member to feature among the prizes at the Fetteresso Forest marathon as mum Angela won the women’s over-50 award when completing the course in 4:05:29.
There were wins for Kevin Stephen (Garioch Road Runners) in the men’s 40-49 age division, 3:28:10, and Iain Campbell (St Cyrus Solos), 3:39:10 in the 50-59 group.
Carnethy’s Aisling Allum set a record time of 3:42:29 when winning the women’s race in which Aberdeen’s Sarah Milne was second in 3:43:44.
The 2019 winner, Jenni Rees-Jenkins (Insch Trail Running Club), was first in the 40-49 age group in 4:06:07.