Athletics: Robbie Simpson expects competitive test from Lairig Ghru
Britain’s mountain racing international Robbie Simpson said this weekend’s Lairig Ghru race was just a warm-up for more difficult challenges later in the summer.
But the Deeside athlete won’t underestimate the test he faces on the 43km journey from Braemar to Aviemore.
Simpson knows all about Lairig’s run, having won last year’s race despite a bad turn at the start.
His time of 3h 3min 24sec was just over five minutes from the record set by Murray Strain (Hunters Bog Trotters).
He said: “My goal is to try to improve last year’s weather, depending on the conditions. But I’m not specifically aiming for the record. I’m just going to try to handle the pace well and if it looks like I’m heading for a quick time later on, then I could push a bit and see what happens.
“I’m racing because it will be a good test of where I am in terms of physical condition. There is also good ground so it should be quite competitive.
“But it’s not a key race. I hope there will be overseas races available for me later in the summer and I am preparing for it. So my training is suitable for longer and more mountainous events.
“I didn’t decrease much for the Lairig Ghru race but it will be a good test and I hope I don’t get lost on this occasion.”
Simpson’s goal for the summer is firmly set on one of the best ultra-distance mountain races in Europe.
He hopes to be able to travel to France and Switzerland for the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc festival at the end of August where he will face the OCC race.
The 55 km trail, which includes 3,500 m of elevation gain, takes its name from the three main communities it crosses. It starts from Orsières in Switzerland, passes through Champex and ends in the French town of Chamonix.
Simpson said: “My main goal is the OCC, but I could also do the Sierre-Zinal race in Switzerland earlier in August.
“But it all depends on the travel restrictions in place and how quickly I can get my second vaccine. Ideally I should be there in mid July if I want to have a chance to do well.
“It would give me time to do a decent workout so that I could get used to the altitude and the climate.
“If I have to miss the Sierre race, it wouldn’t be a big deal because I have done it several times in the past. But I would really like to be ready for the OCC.
“However, if there are still travel restrictions in place, I may have to stay here. If so, then there is a trial run in mid-August for the World Racing Championships. long distance mountain that I could do as an alternative The world championships are in Thailand in November.
In the meantime, Simpson remains the man to beat tomorrow even though he concedes that the men’s race roster is one of the best in recent years.
He said, “One of the reasons I’m doing it is because it’s a good pitch and it will be a good test of my fitness.
“There are some good runners there. Carnethy’s Eoin Lennon should do well. I don’t think I have raced against him, certainly not in recent years, but I am aware of his abilities. I know he had some very good long races and he’s a good hill climber.
“Tom Martyn from Hunters Bog Trotters is very fast on the flat but he’s also a good hill climber and Tom Owens from Shettleston is also very strong but he’s just coming back from an operation so I don’t know in what form he might be. to be.”
Other contenders include Rowan Boswood of Edinburgh, the former West Highland Way 95 mile race champion who finished third in the 2017 Lairig race.
Scottish road and cross country international John Newsom (Inverness Harriers) should also prepare well.
Hungarian Fanni Gyurko (Central AC) is not defending the women’s title, which means 2019 winner Kerry Prize of Aberdeen is among the favorites.
She can expect a tall order, however, from Hollie Orr (Black Combe) who was a finalist in 2020. Nicola Duncan of Carnethy is another athlete who should be among the top.