Inverness Half Marathon preview

Thursday 10th March 2016

Tewolde Mengisteab will defend the title he won last year from Michael Crawley (right) and John Newsom (left)

Inverness Half report 2015

The Scottish road racing season shifts up a gear on Sunday when a top class field assembles for the Inverness half marathon.

Defending champion Tewolde Mengisteab (Shettleston Harriers) and previous winners Andrew Douglas (North Highland Harriers) and Neil Renault (Edinburgh AC) head what looks an exciting men’s lineup.

In all, more than 2,300 runners have signed up for the run through the Highland capital and all the indications are that this could be the most competitive race in the 32-year history of the event.

There’s a decent prize kitty on offer with the men’s and women’s champions each pocketing £300 while the race has the added prestige of hosting the Scottish North District championships for the first time.

Mengisteab was an impressive winner 12 months ago when he recorded 66.48 but the Eritrean-born athlete, who has been living in Glasgow for many years and is now a full Scotland international, faces a tough test if he is to retain the title.

Douglas, from Caithness, won in 2011 when he recorded 67.53 but he has improved dramatically since then.  He set a half marathon personal best time of 65.38 in Barcelona last month before going on to finish second in the National XC men’s  race  over 12K.

Renault, the 2009 Inverness champion, is the fastest Scot in the line -up with a best time of 64.47, albeit dating back to 2011. He hasn’t raced much recently and it’s hard to read too much into his victory in last month’s Deal half marathon.

There’s no shortage of other classy contenders who are more than capable of taking the top prize, including a trio of Mengisteab’s club- mates at Shettleston.

Poland international Kamil Sieracki has the potential to cause an upset if he can hit the sort of form which gave him a personal best 66.44 in last year’s Great Scottish Run.

But it’s Mengisteab’s Eritrean friend Abraham Tewelde who is perhaps the most intriguing. Abraham doesn’t have any known current form but Shettleston coach John Mackay indicates he has outstanding credentials.

Then there’s Mark Mitchell, Scottish 800m and 1500m track champion a few years back, who is making his half marathon debut. The Forres Harriers runner showed good endurance strength when picking up bronze in the National XC.

Dermot Cummins (Corstorphine AAC), the 2013 Scottish half marathon champion, will be keen to make an impact while Kyle Greig (Forres Harriers), and Gordon Lennox (Inverness Harriers) should also feature.


Shona McIntosh will look to repeat her 2015 success

Shona McIntosh (Hunters Bog Trotters) will be keen to retain the women’s title she won last year when recording 76.43 to defeat Jenn Wetton (Central AC) by 20 secs.

McIntosh isn’t likely to find it any easier this time around as there’s a group of rivals capable of dislodging the champion if she is anywhere below top form.

Hungarian triathlon international Fanni Gyurko looks ready to revise her best time of 79.46 set at last year’s Wilmslow half marathon.

The Dunblane-based athlete, who represents Central AC, showed great form at the National XC to finish fifth while McIntosh was 18th. Metro Aberdeen’s Fiona Rudkin is another possible contender for the top prize.

Wetton will also be competing although she is still working her way back to full fitness following lengthy injury problems.

Local hopes rest with Sarah Liebnitz (Inverness Harriers) who is hitting peak form at the right time. Helen Bonsor (Carnethy), fifth last year, and Marie Baxter (Garioch Road Runners) will also be among the leading runners while Thurso twins, Oonagh and Emma Dunnett (North Highland Harriers) and Shetland’s Scotland 100km international Charlotte Black, are others who will be going in search of North District championship honours.

Race Director Malcolm Sutherland is eagerly looking forward to what promises to be another great day of racing.

‘This is probably the strongest depth of quality  we’ve ever had in the race so it looks sure to be an  exciting occasion,’ said Sutherland.

‘The men’s record for the Inverness race, albeit over a different course, is 64.32 and that has stood since 1993. It would be fantastic if that could be challenged this weekend.

‘The half marathon entry list is now closed but there’s still an opportunity for folk to take part as we will be accepting a limited number of entries for the accompanying 5km fun run on the day.

‘Registration is at Inverness Sports Centre, between 9.30am and 12 noon on Sunday but we’d encourage anyone wishing to run to turn up as early as possible to avoid disappointment.’

The half marathon offers an extensive prize list with cash awards to the first three men and women as well as voucher awards to the first men and women in the over-40, over-50 and over-60 age categories.

There are team prizes for the first three men’s clubs and the first two women’s clubs, three runners to score in each. The first member of Inverness Harriers to complete the course will receive the Graeme Moffat Memorial Quaich. On top of that there will be awards for the leading North District runners.

*The half marathon starts at 12.30pm and the 5km fun run at 12.40 pm.

With thanks to Fraser Clyne for this preview



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