Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist Robbie Simpson plans to compete in next weekend’s Aberdeen BHGE 10K if he suffers no ill effects from a hill race near Loch Lomond today.
The Banchory athlete has recovered from his memorable performance in the Gold Coast heat where he collected Scotland’s first marathon medal since Jim Alder took silver behind England’s Ron Hill at Edinburgh in 1970.
Simpson’s first race since returning from Australia is today’s Ben Lomond hill run at Rowardennan, but the BHGE 10K is also in his diary.
The Deeside club member is using the Ben Lomond event to kickstart his preparations for a summer of racing on the European mountain running circuit, primarily in Switzerland where he has enjoyed considerable success in the past.
Among his alpine racing targets are the Zermatt mountain marathon in July, the 31km Sierre-Zinal race in August and September’s Jungfruau marathon.
Although Simpson is focusing on the hills, the 26 year-old Great Britain international is keen to tackle the occasional road race, starting with the BHGE 10K, which celebrates its 32nd edition next weekend.
He said: “I am working towards some good mountain running starting next month in Switzerland so Ben Lomond will be a good practice race just to see what sort of shape I’m in after doing the marathon.
“My legs should have recovered but we’ll find out when I do the race, so I’m looking forward to it.
“My plan is to run as hard as possible to the top of the hill then take it easy on the way down as I don’t want to damage anything by pounding down too hard.
“I want to focus on off-road running at the moment, particularly the hills, although I will do a few steady road runs from time to time.
“I’m still planning to do the BHGE 10km if I feel fine as it’s a big local race and I’m keen to take part.”
Simpson has competed in the Aberdeen event only once before, as a 19-year-old in 2011 when he finished second to Ben Hukins. But he’ll be hoping to go one better on this occasion.
A few days later he will head to Switzerland where he will be based until after the Zermatt marathon in July.
“Zermatt is a race I’ve had pencilled in since the start of the year,” he said.
“I have done the Jungfrau mountain marathon a few times but this one is tougher.
“It starts at a higher level, at St Niklaus, which is 1,116m above sea level, and it involves a bit more climbing than Jungfrau, with the finish being at 2,585m at Riffelberg.
“It’s the highest altitude race finish line in Europe.”
After Zermatt, Simpson will focus on two other major Swiss races at the tail-end of the summer with a return visit to the Jungfrau marathon in September on his target list, but before that he’s aiming for another attempt at winning the classic Sierre-Zinal 31km in August.
He won the Jungfrau race in 2016 and was runner-up last year, but victory has so far eluded him at Sierre, having twice finished second and also taken third and two fifth positions over the past six years.
He said: “I will see how things go.
“There are only five weeks between Zermatt and Sierre-Zinal, but that should be fine as the recovery from alpine marathons is usually much quicker than from a road marathon.”