Mark Mitchell made an impressive half marathon debut at Inverness last year, finishing second in 1hr 6min 07secs, but the Forres Harrier wants to do even better this Sunday (12 March) when he takes part in the 33rd edition of the race. A record 2,613 runners have signed up to run through the streets of the Highland capital.
Mitchell, a former Scottish 800m and 1500m track champion who lives in Inverness, believes he is in better shape than 12 months ago, and is relishing the prospect of testing himself over the 13.1 mile course which is rated one of the fastest in the country.
He said: “My aim is to run as fast as possible. If that means I'm on my own then at the front, that's not a problem. I'm used to training on my own and it doesn’t bother me. I certainly want to get a personal best time if the conditions are fine. Even if the weather isn’t perfect I still think I can run a decent time on this course.”
His rivals include the new Shettleston Harriers recruit Weynay Ghebresilasie who is something of an unknown quantity. The Eritrean recently moved to Scotland, having lived south of the border for a number of years after successfully applying for asylum in Britain after representing his country in the 3000 metres steeplechase at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This will be his first serious half marathon.
Jenn Wetton has won the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon twice in recent years but the Inverness Half Marathon title has so far eluded the Central AC runner. She finished third in 2014 and has been runner-up for each of the past two years. So, will 2017 finally see her take top spot on the rostrum?
She said: “I would certainly like to win this time. My training has been going well and I’ve been putting in a lot of miles and some good tempo runs because I’ve been helping a friend prepare for the Los Angeles marathon. I’m certainly a lot fitter than I was in 2016.”
Wetton faces a formidable opponent, however, in the shape of Glasgow-based Irish athlete Fionnuala Ross. The Shettleston Harrier, silver medallist in the Scottish half marathon championships for the past two years, has a best time of 1:16:35 and is making her first appearance in the Inverness race. She also defeated Wetton to win the Scottish 10K road running title at Stirling last year.
For more information, go to the Inverness Half Marathon website.