Robbie Simpson highlighted that his Commonwealth Games prep was going to plan with an outstanding performance at yesterday's (Sunday 11 March) Inverness Half Marathon. The Deeside Runner showed a field of 2,800 the way home, breaking the tape on 1:04:27 and lowering Peter Fleming's 25 year event record (1:04:32).
Simpson benefitted from a powerful showing from Dundee-based Welsh international Kris Jones, who won the Scottish cross country title a fortnight earlier. Jones made a determined bid to stay with Simpson but was unable to match the Banchory athlete’s sustained fast pace over the final third of the race. However Jones' time (1:04:58) would have been good enough to win in any other year since 1993.
Post-race Simpson said: "That’s the best race I’ve had for a long time. I did a brilliant session of repetition miles when I was in Barcelona last week and it was probably the best I have ever done, so I came here feeling confident."
He added that Jones' presence kept him focussed and that although he flagged around the 6 mile mark, he pushed on over the second half of the race and when he turned at the Ness Bridge he made the most of the wind at his back to storm home in record time.
Cameron Milne (Central AC) finished third in 1:07:21 while fourth placed John Newson, 1:08:51, picked up the Graeme Moffat Memorial Quaich as the first Inverness Harriers club member to finish. He also won the Scottish North District title and led his club to the team prize with backing from Donnie Macdonald, seventh in 1:11:46 and Gordon Lennox, eighth in 1:12:15.
Meanwhile the women's race had as compelling a story line. Metro Aberdeen's Jennifer Elvin, good enough to win last month's San Francisco Half Marathon, just managed a podium place yesterday. Garscube Harrier Katie White produced a PB of 1:15:58 to finish 48 seconds ahead of two-time previous winner Shona McIntosh (Hunters Bog Trotters). McIntosh’s time was the quickest she has recorded from her five appearances at Inverness.
White was pleased with her performance: “This is the first time I have run here and it exceeded my expectations. It was a perfect day and I really enjoyed it. I led all the way and I had no idea how close the next woman might have been as I kept my head down and kept looking ahead."
Jill Knowles (Scottish Prison Service) was first in the over-40 age group when finishing fourth in 1:21:17 while Anwen Darlington (Dundee Road Runners) was fifth in 1:24:39. Sixth-placed Louise Cartmell (Moray Road Runners) won the Scottish North District title in 1:25:26.
Scottish young athlete’s road running champion Lucas Cairns (Inverness Harriers) recorded 16min 50secs to defeat a field of 1,000 runners in the accompanying 5km. Blair Milne (Moray Road Runners) was second in 17:38. Scottish North District under-17 cross country champion Emily Andrew (Inverness Harriers) was first woman in 18:51.