Jason Kelly was in the best form of his life when winning the Dee 33-mile ultra distance race in mid-March.
But since then his athletics ambitions have been put on hold because of the coronavirus lockdown.
The Metro Aberdeen runner couldn’t have imagined that the long run from Duthie Park to Banchory and back would be the last local race for many months.
He completed the course in a fine time of 3hr 22min 53secs which, allowing for the route having been lengthened to add on a circuit of the park, means he can lay claim to the second best time in the 11-year history of the event.
It is bettered only by the 3:10:40 recorded by Commonwealth Games athlete Ross Houston (Central AC) in 2015.
Kelly was hoping to build on that performance by competing in this month’s British 100K championships at Boddington, Gloucestershire, where he hoped to put down a marker for a future Scotland international call-up.
The Lairig Ghru mountain marathon between Braemar and Aviemore at the end of next month was also in his sights.
But both races have been postponed with provisional alternative dates being considered for later in the year.
Despite missing these opportunities, Kelly remains in a positive frame of mind and vows to be in the best shape possible when the races return.
He said: “I had the best few months of my running career prior to lockdown and I was looking forward to making more progress before everything was completely wiped out.
“But I’ve had no problem keeping motivated and I’ve used the time to build a good base of mileage.
“I’ve covered more than 100 miles a week for 10 weeks in a row and that’s something I’ve never been able to do before.
“The longest run was around 31 miles, but other than that I’ve done quite a lot of 20 milers. The remainder have been steady runs of varying paces and distances.
“I haven’t done any specific speed sessions as I can work on that once we know when races are definitely going to be held again.”
Kelly hasn’t been tempted by any of the virtual races which have grown in popularity to fill the void left by the absence of any real competitions.
He said: “To be honest, they don’t appeal to me. I find it hard to do any quality speed sessions on my own, so I’d find it difficult to run my best in a virtual race. I prefer to be running against other people.”
Kelly is clear about his targets and is prepared to wait as long as necessary to hit them.
He said: “Everything is geared to getting a Scotland vest in an ultra race, hopefully next year, and I’ll be preparing as best I can to do that.
“While ultras are my main focus, I still hope to be competitive over shorter distances.
“When I look back at 2019, at one end of the scale I managed to win the Union Street mile and, at the other, I won the Nocturnal ultra in which I ran 50 miles.”
Kelly hasn’t given up hope on there being some competitive events before the end of 2020 and plans to be ready should that happen.
He said: “If the British 100K and Lairig Ghru races go ahead before the end of the year I’d be keen to do them.
“Another possibility is the Speyside Way ultra if it goes ahead, otherwise I’ll wait until 2021.”