Robbie Simpson realised just how tough the conditions were towards the end of yesterday’s Inverness Half Marathon when he looked up and saw a seagull which was struggling to make any headway into the ferocious wind and driving rain.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist couldn’t recall when he last faced such adverse weather in a race, but despite that he still posted a highly respectable winning time of 1.06.15 to finish well clear of a record field of close to 3000 competitors.
The time was well adrift of the course record 1.04.27 he set under more favourable circumstances last year, but Simpson was more than satisfied with the outcome.
He said: “It was so bad towards the end that I’m convinced the seagull had come to a complete halt in mid-flight. I don’t normally mind the wind and rain too much but it was bitterly cold as well. I was running low on energy over the final 20mins and wanted to take a gel with some water but my hands were so numb I couldn’t do it.”
Great Britain ultra distance international Michael Crawley (Corstorphine AC) took second position behind Simpson in 1.08.40 while Mike Christoforou (Edinburgh AC), the Scottish cross country championships bronze medallist finished third in 1.09.07.
Simpson said: “It was great to begin with because there was a tailwind and all the way through to the halfway point I was feeling good. I thought I could make up some time over the second half but when we turned into the wind it was really hard to keep the momentum going and it became a bit of a battle.”
Simpson is now looking forward to next month’s London Marathon where he hopes to improve his best time of 2.15.04 set in the capital two years ago.
He said: “I’ll probably do Garioch Half Marathon as a training run later this month. Then there’s the Scottish 10 mile championships in early April, but I might give that a miss and just concentrate on training for London.”
There was more success for Simpson when he led his club, Deeside Runners, to the team title with backing from Scotland hill running international James Espie who was sixth in 1.11.17 and Jamie Ross, 51st in 1.20.45.
Donnie Macdonald, who was fourth in a personal best 1:10:35, received the Graeme Moffat Memorial Quaich as the first Inverness Harrier to finish.
He said: “I’m really happy to win the trophy and I’m delighted to run my fastest time in these conditions. I always seem to run well in really bad weather. I just decided to commit myself from the start and I went with some guys who are quicker than me and it worked out well.”
Lancashire athlete Liz Abbott produced an outstanding performance to win the women’s title by completing the course in 1.16.52, a time bettered by only 19 men.
The Lytham St Anne’s Road Runners club member was competing in her first half marathon for almost a decade and she took close to 10 minutes off her previous best time.
She said: ”I’ve been away from running for a long time as I took a break after starting a family. The last half marathon I did was at Wilmslow in 2009 and I only decided to lace up my running shoes again about 11 months ago.
“I was hoping to run around 1:19 but when I saw the weather forecast I wasn’t sure about that. So I’m really pleased with the time I got. I was leading from just after two miles and I never saw any other women after that. It was hard work under the conditions but I enjoyed the course. It’s undulating, which seems to suit me.”
Katie White (Garscube Harriers), the 2017 race winner, had to settle for second position in 1.17.34 while Hungarian international Fanni Gyurko (Central AC), who won in 2016, was third in 1.18.51.
Sheena Logan, sixth in 1:23:00 led Fife AC to the women’s team prize with backing from Morgan Windrum-Geddes, 1.23.30 and Jennifer Spence, 1.25.06.
For full times for the Inverness Half Marathon and all the weekend's results visit runABC Scotland online.
Image courtesy Inverness Half Marathon