David aims for third time lucky in Highlands
27th September 2013
David Kirkland hopes to avoid an unwanted hat-trick of results when he competes in Sunday's Baxters Loch Ness Marathon.
The experienced English athlete, who runs for Alnwick Harriers, will be making his third appearance in the Highland race and on both previous occasions he agonisingly had to settle for second position.
In 2008 he recorded 2.28.32 to finish 29 seconds behind Kenya's Ezekila Cherop and the following year he was again runner-up when recording 2.23.54 in losing out to another African, Simon Tonui, who won in what remains the course record time of 2.20.13.
'I'd really like to win this time and I will be giving it my best shot,' said Kirkland.
'I reckon I'm in shape to run around 2.25 so we'll just have to wait and see if that's good enough. I've been training really hard, regularly doing 100 miles per week. I've even been up to 115 miles on one occasion.'
Kirkland has a fine marathon running pedigree. His fastest time of 2.23.37 was set in 2010 when finishing third in the Brescia marathon in Italy. He also has third place finishes to his credit at Naples in 2012 and Belfast in 2010. Earlier this year he won the over-40 age group award when finishing seventh overall in the Edinburgh marathon.
Kirkland faces some strong opposition in the race which, for the third year in a row, doubles up as the scottishathletics marathon championship.
Edinburgh University student Patryk Gierjatowicz could pose a realistic threat to the Alnwick runner’s hopes of victory.
The Polish athlete competed in the Baxters Loch Ness marathon three years ago when he finished 10th in 2.34.09 but he has improved dramatically since then and in April he set a new personal best time of 2.26.02 when finishing 25th in the London marathon.
Kenyan runner Taurus Elly could also come into the reckoning although he is something of an unknown quantity. The Salford-based runner hopes to make his marathon debut on Sunday if he overcomes a knee injury sustained in the Cardiff 10K earlier this month.
Alina Nituleasa should be the class act in the women's race although there's a degree of mystery about the Romanian athlete.
Nituleasa, 30, has a best time of 2.45.03 set when winning the Piacenza marathon in Italy last year and a repeat of that performance would see her crack the Loch Ness women's record of 2.46.39 set by Ethiopia's Dinknesh Mekash Tefara in 2010.
Lisa Finlay seems sure to be at the heart of what promises to be an intriguing battle for the Scottish title. The Dumfries athlete struck gold at Loch Ness in 2011 when she won in 2:59:14 then finished second behind Shettleston's Avril Mason last year when running 2.57.55.
Finlay has since improved her best time to 2:54:39, set when finishing 10th in Florence last November and she's looking forward to this weekend's race.
She said: ‘I'm optimistic about my form at the moment and hopefully I'll run quicker than in the past two years.
‘I'd like to get a personal best time, but Loch Ness isn't the easiest of courses. It's a beautiful route, but quite hilly.
‘The fact that there's a Scottish title at stake is a real attraction for me and it certainly looks as though there will be some top quality competition because of that, which is a good thing.’
Scottish trail running international Jenny MacLean (Edinburgh AC) who ran a lifetime best of 2.51.37 for third position in this year's Edinburgh marathon, will also be in the mix for the top prize.
Others who look sure to be involved at the head of the field include Shetland's Scottish 100Km champion Charlotte Black, 2011 silver medallist Carole Setchell (Shettleston), former national champ Louise Beveridge (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers), Julie Malko (Corstorphine) and Jennifer Emsley (Central)
Erica Christie (Bellahouston Harriers) will maintain her record of having competed in all 11 Loch Ness marathons held so far.
In the Baxters River Ness 10k, Andrew Douglas is confident of being able to make a determined effort to defend his title.
The Edinburgh-based Caithness athlete has been affected by a series of injuries this year and these have curtailed his progress, but he feels ready to put on a good show.
He said: ‘I think I'm capable of running at least as fast as I did last year. It should be another good competitive race and I'm looking forward to it.’
Douglas faces some familiar opponents, including John Newsom (Central AC), who is preparing for next month's Frankfurt marathon. The Nairn-based runner will be aiming to go one better than last year when he finished in second position.
Kyle Greig (Forres Harriers) is also hoping for a good display. The Scottish trail international, who won this race in 2011, finished third twelve months ago. Edinburgh-based Irishman Dermot Cummins (Corstorphine AC) is also likely to feature strongly. Others to challenge could be Robert Turner (Edinburgh AC) and Keith Hood (Corstorphine AC) and Donnie Macdonald and Stephen Mackay of Inverness.
Aberdeenshire athlete Rhona Auckland (Banchory Stonehaven AC) is favourite to win the women's prize for the second year in a row.
The 20 year-old Edinburgh University student's winning time twelve months ago, 34.35, is the quickest by a British runner in the history of the Inverness race. Only Kenyan's Cathy Mutwa, who holds the course record of 33.46, and Joyce Kandia, have run quicker.
This will be Auckland's first race since she finished ninth when representing Great Britain in the 10,000m at the European under-23 championships in Finland in July.
She said: ‘I took a break after the European championships but I'm now really looking forward to racing again.
‘My training has been going well and I'd be very disappointed if I didn't run at least as fast as I did last year.’
Race Director Malcolm Sutherland is anticipating a thrill-packed day.
‘We are delighted to be hosting the Scottish marathon championships for the third year in a row and because of this we expect a highly competitive race in both the men’s and women’s divisions.
‘The 10K has also attracted many top quality runners and we anticipate some keen competition in the team Corporate Challenge.’
For full information on this weekend’s event, including road closures following the link here
Report by Fraser Clyne
Report by Fraser Clyne