CAPITAL hero Freya Murray-Ross will not be defending the Scottish Women’s Cross Country title she has won for the last four years at Callendar Park, Falkirk tomorrow, much to the regret, surprisingly perhaps, of the woman most likely to succeed her, Susan Partridge.
Murray-Ross is currently in Boulder, Colorado training at altitude in the Rockies with coach Steve Jones in preparation for the London Marathon on April 21.
“In some ways I’m disappointed Freya isn’t going to be here – I’d love to race her,” said the 33-year-old Yorkshire-based Scot, who might well be partnering Murray-Ross in the Scotland marathon team for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
East Kilbride-reared Partridge is favourite to regain the title she last won in 2008, interrupting a run of victories by Murray who had also won the previous two years.
Now Mrs Murray-Ross after getting married in the wake of last summer’s London Olympics, where she was the leading British finisher in the marathon, the 28-year-old Edinburgh AC runner would have been going for five-in-a-row had she contested tomorrow’s 70th national women’s event.
“I totally understand what she’s doing now ahead of the London Marathon but I’m pretty sure that, come tomorrow, there’ll be a part of her wishing she was ploughing round Callendar Park,” added Partridge.
Murray-Ross herself picks out Partridge or former Edinburgh University star Rosie Smith as her likely successor, Smith (Hunter’s Bog Trotters) having represented Great Britain in the European Cross Championships last December.
The race has attracted 301 entries in an overall total for the races of 1955 including 720 in the senior men’s.
Emily Stewart (EAC), on the form she showed in the 3k race at the Great Edinburgh Cross in Holyrood Park last month and at the Birmingham Games at the NIA last Saturday when she broke nine minutes indoors for 3k, would have been well in contention tomorrow as well, but the 20-year-old Newcastle University maths student has opted for the British Universities Indoors in Sheffield where she will run the 1500 metres.
Dundee’s Laura Muir has also spoken of her love for the National, where she would have been a strong contender for the under-20 title had she not pulled out to concentrate on her prep for the European Indoor Championships 1500m in Gothenburg in a week’s time. She will be one of only two Scots competing in Sweden, the other being Eilidh Child (Pitreavie) in the 400m and the 4x400m relay.
Rhona Auckland (Edinburgh University) returns from injury to challenge for the under-20 crown at Falkirk, however.
Men’s champion Derek Hawkins (Kilbarchan) is also absent tomorrow because he too has marathons on his mind.
Corstorphine AC will have more than 40 entered in the senior race while Capital rivals EAC have over 30. Josh Kerr (EAC) will be a strong favourite for the under-15 boys’ event.
Guy second in Stockholm
Disappointingly relegated to a B race, Guy Learmonth (Lasswade) finished second to Pierre Antoine Balhan of Belgium in an invitation 800 metres in Stockholm last night.
However, though Learmonth beat two top-quality opponents in Andreas Bube of Denmark and the Czech Jan Kubista, his time of 1:49.33 secs was well outside his personal best indoors of 1:47.41. The A race, which had a pacemaker, was won by Mohammed Aman (Ethiopia) in 1:45.05, the World’s fastest time this year.
Eilish McColgan sliced four seconds off her best to run 8:49.31, the third fastest by a Scot (behind her mother Liz and Yvonne Murray) to finish second to Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba (8:26.57) in the 3000m.