Despite taking part in his first ultra distance race recently, Banchory’s Robbie Simpson still has an eye on making the Great Britain marathon squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Deeside athlete finished fifth in the North Face Challenge 50-mile race in California earlier in the month.
He completed the testing route along the hilly trails to the north of San Francisco in 6hr 48min 38secs.
It was the first time he had competed in a race beyond the full marathon distance of 26.2 miles and he had never previously run for more than 3hr 15min.
Simpson admits it was the toughest race he has tackled, but it hasn’t put him off attempting similar ventures in the future.
He said: “I won’t lie, it was the hardest race I’ve done.
“Apparently we were well under course record pace for the first half and a lot of us paid the price.
“I had no idea how fast it was because the pace felt really comfortable as I’m more used to shorter distances.
“But it was too fast and by halfway my legs were struggling.
“I managed to grind it out until things started picking up in the final 30 minutes or so. The course had some amazing sections of trail with the redwood forest being the highlight.
“I got a lot of encouragement out there, which I’m very grateful for, it was much needed.
“I’m glad it’s done, though.
“I’d like to do more ultras but not for a while.
“I’ll maybe look to do one after next summer or later in the year, although I’ve nothing specific in mind.
“Looking further ahead I’d be keen to try the Comrades 90K marathon in South Africa as it’s on the road and it’s one of the classic ultra races.
“But I don’t want to get into doing too many of them for the moment.”
Simpson, the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, will now refocus on marathon running with the aim of improving on his best time of 2:14:56 set at London in April.
It’s a time that places him 10th in this year’s British rankings, which are headed by Mo Farah’s 2:05:39 and the Scottish record 2:08:14 set by Kilbrachan’s Callum Hawkins, in that same London race.
The Olympic qualifying standard of 2:11:20 is also a target, but Simpson knows that would require a big step up from what he has done previously. He said: “I will definitely do a spring marathon but I haven’t decided yet which one.
“If everything is going really well I may go for London as it’s the Olympic trial and to have any hope of being picked I’d have to be there.
“I’m quite tempted because so many other guys are going and it’s always a good quality field. The weather is never too bad and there’s not much travelling involved.
“However, I’ve done it three times before and I might fancy a change.
“There is quite a lot to take into consideration and I will have to make a decision before too long as I can’t leave it to the last minute to decide which one to do.”