There is still time to register for Inverness half marathon on 17 March - just! Entries close at midnight tonight (26 February). One man who won't be participating but will still have a major say in the winner is Buckie GP, Lewis Walker.
Walker, who represented the Scottish Schools team as a middle distance runner in the mid '70s, is still an active competitor in local events and has recently become involved in coaching. A number of the leading entrants for the Inverness race are being guided by the 54-year-old doctor.
Walker said: "I started off by helping Mark Mitchell, the Forres middle distance runner, and things have snowballed from there. Over the winter I have been advising Joe Symonds, the Great Britain mountain running international. He is competing at Inverness as part of his preparations for the Rotterdam marathon in April when he'll be trying to get a Commonwealth Games qualifying time. Joe is probably fitter than he has ever been. He has done some really tough training sessions and it will be interesting to see how he performs."
North league champion Kyle Greig (Forres Harriers) is another athlete who has come under Lewis's wing in recent months.Walker said: "Kyle has been running much better over the past few months and he's getting his times down so I'd expect him to do well at Inverness as this will be the first half marathon he has prepared for properly."
Dougie Selman (Corstorphine AC), Scottish indoor 1500m champion in 2008 and 2009, is also benefitting from Walker's expertise. The Edinburgh-based runner will make his half marathon debut at Inverness along with his training partner and Corstorphine clubmate, Michael Crawley, the reigning Scottish universities and colleges cross country champion. Selman hopes to run faster than 67 minutes, which would put him in contention for the £1,000 top prize in what promises to be an extremely competitive race.
Walker said: "It's good that there will be a group of them working together at the front of the race. Hopefully that will help them all get decent performances."
There are also places available for the 5K Team Attack, open to clubs, businesses, or groups of friends who can enter teams of four, and the 5k fun run. To enter any of the races, visit the event website