Rhona Auckland will draw on lessons from the past as she looks to put a marker down for the future at the European U23s in Estonia.
The Scot who is heading to New Mexico University later this year heads into the 10,000m final highly-ranked following a superb British Championship win at Highgate in London in May.
Auckland then took an England Athletics 5000m Championship record from her fellow GB cross country international, Kate Avery, with her 15.59 run the perfect warm-up for Tallinn.
Rhona is joined in the GB squad for this weekend by fellow Scots Neil Gourley (1500m), Cameron Boyek (1500m), Kirsten McAslan (400m and 4x400m), Rachel Hunter (Hammer) and Zoey Clark (4x400m).
So, as long as Rhona does not miscount the 25-laps or argue with officials, the Edinburgh Universiyt/Banchory Stonehaven athlete should be fine . . . which is precisely what happened two years ago in her first crack at the 10,000m at the Euro U23s in Finland.
In a special blog post preview for scottishathletics, we asked the Euro Cross U23 champion to look ahead to Estonia and then tell us more about her impending move to the United States.
‘I have had the 10,000m in Estonia on my mind for some time now and said all along that it was my target in terms of the track for 2014,’ said Rhona.
‘I had the 5000m qualifying standard but 10,000m is where I see my future on the track. So I’d love to try and perform at my best and see if I can medal there.
‘Two years ago I was quite young at the U23s in Finland and it didn’t go all that well!
‘I was competitive in the race, on a very warm day indeed, for about 6k and then went doo-lally! I was running outside my lane and then stopped when I actually had a lap to go. I even had an argument with an official. It was the kind of thing you only ever do once . . . let’s call it a big learning curve.
‘I was lapped at one point close to the finish line and that athlete took the bell so I must have thought it was the same for me – I will never mis-count laps again, that is for sure!
‘This year, the British Champs at Highgate in May went even better than I could have expected on the night (32.28 PB) so that’s good form to take into Tallinn.
‘I then ran the 5000m at Bedford in not the best weather and conditions – a typical Bedford day in many ways – and managed to nick a Championship best record from Kate Avery.
‘We are quite good friends now so I had a jokey text from her later about pinching her record. Actually, I was in the same Bedford race two years ago when Kate set that 5000m time and I remember thinking ‘What a great athlete she is’. So I guess I have to be pretty pleased with my own progress.
‘I feel I have been lucky enough to amass a lot of experience over the past couple of years and it is standing me in good stead. I went to the U23s Finland as I have said and then I was at the European 10,000m Cup in Skopje in 2014 as well as the Euro Cross and the World Cross, of course.
‘There’s always something you can learn – whether it is about the travelling, the preparation, the athletes you are competing against, the athletes you are competing with.
‘After Estonia, I’m almost finished with races on this side of the Atlantic for a while.
‘I am off to New Mexico University at Albuquerque for a Masters Degree in Public Health. I have three years to complete and certainly the plan is to stay there for at least a year.
‘I will be training at altitude there and racing top competition in the NCAA system ad hopefully it will all help me improve.
‘I believe I will be free to come back for something like the Euro Cross but it might depend on NCAA commitments – one of the reasons I am going to America is to compete at that level so that will be the priority.
‘It is an exciting time for me and, before I go, I want to thank Joyce and Ken Hogg who have been wonderful coaches for me as I have grown as an athlete. I appreciate all their help, support and sacrifice over the years.’