Political and sporting circles in Scotland were buzzing last night with reports that First Minister Alex Salmond is set to make his big race debut at Edinburgh Marathon Festival next month. The 59-year-old is said to have been in secret training for over six months after losing weight and improving his general fitness in 2013.
Holyrood insiders believe that Alex Salmond has been spurred on by the recent performance of Finance Minister John Swinney (in March's Rome Marathon) and the UK shadow cabinet minister Jim Murphy's plans to run at the Virgin Money London Marathon and at Edinburgh Marathon.
One highly placed source told scottishrunningguide.com: "This isn't bluff or bluster, Alex has prepared meticulously for the Edinburgh race on 25 May but doesn't see that as the end of the road. If things go to plan he may then head for the West Highland Way race in June. He believes that storming into Fort William at the end of the 96 mile trail run would be the ultimate photo opportunity and could influence the independence referendum outcome."
Deep Calf continued: "Running fever has caused some friction at the heart of the SNP high command with Salmond less than impressed by Swinney's performance in Rome. Alex reckons that John cut corners with his pre-race interval training and hill work and he hopes to go close to 4 hours at Edinburgh even though he will be keeping some petrol in the tank for the West Highland Way race.
"Close friends are concerned though the First Minister is taking his new interest a little too seriously. He's been spotted checking out the Marathon des Sables website and that might be a bridge too far."