Preview by Fraser Clyne
The battle between Manchester-based Jordanian runner Mohammed Aburezeq and veteran Kenyan athlete Isaiah Kosgei promises to be one of the highlights of the Baxters Loch Ness marathon and running festival which has attracted more than 8,000 entrants from 48 countries.
Aburezeq, who has won the marathon in some style for the past two years, believes he is in the best form of his life and has promised to smash the course record of 2:20:13 set by Kenya’s Simon Tonui in 2009 if conditions are favourable.
The Altrincham and District club member was only 39 seconds outside the record in 2016 and recorded 2:22:00 in 2017. He has lost just one of 15 races this year in distances ranging from 5K to half marathon and that defeat was back in January.
‘I am more ready than I have been in the two previous years,’ said Aburezeq.
‘I have been training hard and I will race smart on the Loch Ness course. You have to be careful on the downhills early on because it gets hard later.’
Kosgei also promises to run a much more sensible race than he did 12 months ago when, after setting off at a crazily fast pace, he suffered badly and ended up jogging to the finish in fifth position with a time of 2:34:24.
Others expected to be involved in the battle for the podium positions include prolific marathoner Adam Holland (Tavistock), Scottish masters champion Tom Roche (Insch Trail Running Club), Highland Cross duathlon champion Gordon Lennox (Inverness Harriers) and three-time Scottish champion Patryk Gierjatowicz (Hunters Bog Trotters).
Jenn Wetton hopes to be seriously competitive in the women’s race just seven months after giving birth to her first child. The Central AC runner has won twice before, picking up the Scottish title at the Highland race in 2014 when she recorded a personal best time of 2:46:10 then repeating her success in 2016 when she clocked 2:47:03.
Wetton admits she’s unsure as to how fast she might run on this occasion but feels she is in reasonable shape.
‘I gave birth to Adam in February and did my first run six weeks after that,’ said Jenn. ‘Seven weeks after he was born I decided to do a seven mile run and I increased the distance every week after that until I ran 23 miles.’
She regularly took part in parkruns during her build-up, but tackled her first serious race earlier this month, finishing eighth in the Scottish 10km championships at Stirling.
Her opposition is likely to be led by Fife AC’s Sheena Logan who set a personal best half marathon time of 81.56 when winning the Great Aberdeen Run last month. Other contenders include Hazel Wyness (Metro Aberdeen) and Jill Mykura (Carnethy) who were fourth and fifth respectively last year.
Kenny Wilson hopes it will be a case of fifth time lucky when he competes in the Baxters River Ness 10km on Sunday.
The Craigellachie runner, who is to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth half marathon in Cardiff next month, has never won the race, his best performances coming in 2015 and 2017, when he finished third on each occasion. His time of 30.25 last year remains the fastest he has recorded for the distance.
Wilson will do all he can to win this weekend but isn’t underestimating the significant challenge he faces from Kilbarchan’s Euan Gillham who picked up bronze in the Scottish 10km championships at Stirling earlier in the month when the Moray athlete finished 17 secs behind in fifth position.
Other contenders for podium positions include John Newsom (Inverness Harriers) who is also in the Scotland squad for the Commonwealth half marathon.
Jenny Bannerman who was fourth in the Scottish 10km championships at Stirling, will attempt to defend the women’s title.