Athletics: McColgan relishes royal race

BRITISH athletics acquaints itself with a new topography today as leading middle distance runners, including Liz McColgan and Paula Radcliffe, race past features including Creag Na Ghobainn, Creag Nan Gill, Ripe Hill and the Woods of Garmaddie.

Yes, of course, we're talking about the grounds of Balmoral Castle, which the sometime resident has graciously allowed to host the self-styled Balmoral Highland Challenge for the delectation of selected spectators and BBC Television.

McColgan recently returned from training in Florida to find herself facing Arctic conditions. But she believes she is as well prepared as a marathon runner can be for her five-mile event against some of Europe's finest. Radcliffe is racing just a week after breaking McColgan's seven-year-old British 10,000 metres record by nine seconds, which she achieved in Lisbon with a time of 30m 48.58s.

McColgan, who won the world 10,000 metres title in 1991, said: "Having dedicated myself to a marathon career since then, everyone tipped Paula to be my natural successor. Her run proved what a natural talent she possesses.

"To run so quickly in her first ever race over 25 laps was a brilliant achievement and, although I lost my record, I was delighted with Paula's achievement. She certainly took the bull by the horns."

McColgan, who is preparing for the London Marathon later this month, added: "I've trained exceptionally hard in the past few weeks and now what I really need is a tough race."

Other features of the day include a rematch over four kilometres between Britain's John Mayock and Pancorbo, the Spaniard whom he beat, with the help of an elbow or two, at last month's European Indoor Championships.

Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka's leading athlete and Asia's fastest woman, has been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The International Amateur Athletic Federation announced that Jayasinghe's second urine B sample, taken in a random check last month, was found to contain traces of nandrolone, a banned steroid.

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