Aberdeen BHGE 10km champion Robbie Simpson flies out to Switzerland this weekend to begin his preparations for the Zermatt alpine mountain marathon in early July.
The 26-year-old Deeside Runners club member will take part in a few shorter races over the next few weeks beginning with an outing in the Gamperney Berglauf on Sunday.
The race climbs a breathtaking 1,000m over its 8.8km route but Simpson knows how to handle it, having won here two years ago.
The Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medal winner was satisfied with his first BHGE victory last Sunday after finishing more than two mins ahead of his closest rival in the field of 2,880 runners.
He said: “It was really good.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d still be tired from the Commonwealth marathon five weeks ago, but I felt quite decent.
“The toughest bit was on the climb just after Pittodrie when the wind has head-on, but it was quite near the finish so that wasn’t a problem.
“I’m happy to have won and now I’m looking forward to getting some good training done in Switzerland.”
There’s no doubt Simpson will enjoy spending time running in the mountains over the summer, but another road marathon later in the year remains in his plans.
He said: “My focus over the next few months will be on mountain running, but I’d like to try to improve my best marathon time of 2hr 15min 4secs which I set in London last year.
“So, I’d like to do a marathon, maybe in October, although I could wait until November or December. There are a few possibilities, but I haven’t decided which one for certain yet.”
He will also compete in August’s 31km Sierre-Zinal race in Switzerland. It’s one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious mountain events but victory has eluded the north-east man in recent years. He has twice finished second and also taken third and two fifth positions.
Simpson’s girlfriend Ginie Barrand is also planning to tackle the Sierre race now she has recovered from injury.
The French-born Metro Aberdeen women’s team captain produced an excellent performance to finish third behind her clubmates Fiona Brian and Claire Bruce in the BHGE 10km with a time of 37:33.
She said: “I am really happy with that as I didn’t have any expectations after having been injured earlier in the year.
“I have just been building up the miles again and not doing any specific sessions so this run gives me a benchmark. I was a very proud captain, seeing my team winning with Fiona and Claire doing so well.
“I am looking forward to Sierre-Zinal so I’ll be doing some hill races as part of my preparation.”