Jenny Bannerman and Sean Chalmers of Inverness impressed in Forres road race (pictured here by Bobby Gavin at recent Lochgelly event)
*Localised competition with restricted fields is one route for athletics in Scotland to carry on competing amid restrictions imposed to fight a global pandemic.
And it has been great in recent weeks to see that start to happen in different parts of the country.
We turn the focus today on two such events – with the ‘Back to Basics’ 10k race in Forres delivering fast times for a limited number of North athletes and the Lothian Junior XC offering races for young athletes at a clutch of East clubs.
Inverness duo Sean Chalmers and Jenny Bannerman came up with fast times at Sunday’s Covid-compliant Back To Basics 10K on the familiar Ben Romach course in Forres.
As North road racing took a major step back towards normality, Chalmers posted a course record of 29:55, also dipping below the 30-minute barrier for the first time.
Bannerman, with 35:08, just missed the women’s record by six seconds and her own personal best by 16.
From the start, Chalmers and Commonwealth marathon bronze medallist Robbie Simpson of Deeside set a brisk pace and it was only with a mile to go that the Aberdeen based PE teacher broke free, with Simpson still in close attendance on 30:07. Scotland international Kenny Wilson of Moray Road Runners was third in 31:22.
Wilson’s Scotland team-mate Bannerman, the only woman in the faster Wave 1, hung on at the back of a quality men’s field, finishing strongly but just outside the 24-year-old course record.
The next two women took top five places in Wave 2 and both set personal best times. Catriona Fraser (Inverness) ran 37:22 and Kirstie Rogan of Moray 37:36.
Chalmers, who took second place in the previous weekend’s Lindsays Short Course XC at Perth, was more than content with his first foray below 30 minutes for 10K.
‘I’ve been training hard for that for a long time, trying to get it. I feel I’ve been in sub-30 shape for a few months and was just trying to get the right race and it was good to have Robbie and Kenny out here today which made it a really quality field for a sub-30.’
CHALMERS GOES 'BACK TO BASICS'
Commonwealth Games medallist Robbie Simpson and Sean Chalmers were neck and neck at the 5 Mile point, Chalmers managed to push on and break 30 mins in 29:52. Congratulations from everyone at the club! ?♂️??
? Gemma Cormack @scotathletics pic.twitter.com/GATmn1dPR4
— Inverness Harriers (@InvHarriersAAC) December 13, 2020
Bannerman was happy to produce a fast time in an event so near to home after such a lengthy period of sparse competition.
‘Normally I would have been racing the Telford 10K today but it’s brilliant to get such a good event so close to home,’ said Jenny.
‘It was a bit of a lonely race towards the back of a group of very fast men but I just dug in and was pleased to get so close to my best. I knew I was close to the course record but as I came round the last corner, I realised that I was just going to miss it.’
The free-to-enter event was the product of a huge amount of work by the organiser, Paul Rogan of Moray Road Runners who, apart from the normal problems of race organisation, also had to meet a wide range of Covid protocols.
He hopes that the event marks another step towards the return of competition.
‘We’ve not organised races like this before in waves and so on and it’s all gone so well,’ he said. ‘All the runners behaved really well and they’ve all done what the guidelines stated, which is really important.’
With thanks to Charles Bannerman
Great to see Barry Craighead kicking things off at the Lothian Junior XC today @FoxlakeScotland Many thanks to all who helped out and especially @scotathletics officials and @TeamEastLothian for organising a superb event @LasswadeAC @Livingston_AC @MusselburghDAC @EdinburghAC pic.twitter.com/gijCPJbA1i
— HarmenyAC (@HarmenyAC) December 12, 2020
The Lothian Junior XC events have been set up by a number of East of Scotland clubs and have already worked well this winter.
Foxlake in East Lothian hosted the latest in a series of events and offered races at U11, U13, U15 and U17/18 level for athletes from clubs in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
Again, like Forres, there were protocols in place in order to comply with local restrictions and it is a huge positive for athletics in Scotland that clubs themselves have taken the initiative themselves to stage these events.
There is another Lothian Junior XC event coming up on Monday 4 January.