Mohammad Abu-Rezeq has set his sights on earning a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after completing a hat-trick of wins in the Baxters Loch Ness marathon.

The Manchester-based athlete completed the course in 2hr 23min 56secs to finish well ahead of his closest challengers then announced he is targeting next April’s London marathon where he hopes to achieve a fast enough time to gain selection to represent his native Jordan in Japan two years from now.

Abu-Rezeq’s time today was the slowest of his three victories at Loch Ness but he was delighted with the result and feels he can run much quicker in future to gain Olympic selection.

He said: “The conditions were good today and it was a very nice race. I like this course so much which is why I keep coming back here. It’s not an easy course and I know I can run much quicker.

“My big aim is to run for my country in the Olympic Games so I need to run under 2:18 at London and I am sure I can do that. However I would like to go under2:15 as that would give me a sponsor which would allow me to train properly for the Games.”

Prolific long distance runner Adam Holland (Tavistock AC) showed great strength over the final two miles to pull away from Kenyan athlete Isaiah Kosgei to take second position in a personal best 2:24:24.

The Devon athlete, who warmed up for the marathon by taking top spot  in the previous day’s Inverness parkrun 5km, said: “I am over the moon as that’s more than three mins I’ve taken off my previous best time. I didn’t ease back for this as I did two half marathons last weekend and the week before that I ran a 100km race. Next week I’ll be out doing a 100 mile race. Today was my 380thmarathon or ultramarathon.

“I was actually leading after about 5km but Abu-Rezeq and Kosgei pulled away from me after about 10 or 11 miles. But I saw Kosgei ahead of me on the massive hill later on and I passed him at about 24 miles then just kept going.”

Kosgei, who was fifth last year, finished third to take top spot in the over-40 age group in 2:26:37. It was important for the Kenyan to feature in the prize list as part of his reason for competing here was to raise money for the school he founded in his homeland.

He said: “Conditions were good and I was much happier than last year and I ran much better.”

LOGAN STUNNED TO WIN WOMEN’S TITLE IN BAXTERS LOCH NESS MARATHON

Fife AC’s Sheena Logan set a fine new personal best time of 2:51:11 to win the women’s race by finishing ahead of two-time previous champion Jenn Wetton (Central AC) who was competing nine months after giving birth to son Adam.

Logan, who looked remarkably fresh at the end of the contest, admitted to being shocked by her success but was absolutely delighted to have won. She said: “I am stunned by the result, completely blown away, and I really enjoyed it. It’s an improvement of more than four min on my previous best set before I had my children who are now aged 1 and 4.

“Jenn is such a great athlete and I was with her until halfway and after that I was on my own. But you never know what’s going to happen so I just kept concentrating. You have to treat the distance with respect.”

Wetton, who recorded 2:53:19, was equally happy with the outcome. She said: “I might need to reassess which is harder, childbirth or marathon running. On the basis of today I’d say its marathon running. I was so tired over the last mile but I knew my wee boy would be at the finish so that kept me going and made it special. I was as well prepared for the race as I could be at this stage and I really needed to do it as a target to help me get back.”

Hazel Wyness (Metro Aberdeen) picked up the over-40 award when finishing third overall in 3:00:27.

She said: “I was fourth last year so it’s good to be in the top three, although I was hoping to be under three hours.”

GILLHAM SPRINTS TO VICTORY IN BAXTERS RIVER NESS 10KM WHLE WHILE BANNERMAN POSTS FAST TIME IN WOMEN’S RACE

Kilbarchan’s Euan Gillham got the better Moray’s Kenny Wilson in an enthralling battle for supremacy in the Baxters River Ness 10km.

The duo were locked together in the early stages before Wilson pulled away, opening up what appeared to be a decisive lead. But Gillham, who was bronze medallist in the Scottish 10km championships at Stirling a fortnight earlier when Wilson finished fifth, gradually reeled in his rival and burst clear in the closing stages to win by 11secs in a personal best 30min 22secs.

He said: “Kenny went out at a good pace and I just couldn’t go with it. He had a decent lead at 7km but when we hit the bridge about 1km from the end I managed to catch him and I went past as hard as I could so as not to give him a chance to react. I’m pleased because that’s 24secs faster than my previous best set at Paisley last month.”

Wilson, who is to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth half marathon at Cardiff next month, was disappointed not to win but took some positives from the outcome.

He said: “When Euan went past I tried to hang on but just couldn’t do it. I was still quite close to my best time and it was an ideal workout in the lead up to Cardiff.”

John Newsom (Inverness Harriers), the 2013 race winner, finished third in 32:13 and led Inverness College UHI to the Corporate Challenge team title with backing from Ross Cairns (38:15), Robert Boyd (41:09) and Stephen Wells (41:53).

Dwight Grieve, who represented New Zealand in the world mountain running championships in Andorra the previous weekend, won the over-40’s prize when finishing eighth overall in 33:19, a time which equals his personal best. He said:”I really loved this event. It was well set up and there was  a great bunch of guys to run with .”

Jenny Bannerman set a personal best time of 34:53 to score her third victory in five years in the women’s race. The Inverness Harriers club member sliced 14secs off her previous best and charted new territory by dipping under the 35min barrier for the first time.

She said: “I am really delighted. I wanted to win the race today but getting a good time was more important. So I’m so happy to have done both. It’s has taken me a long time to get under 35min. I don’t know many times I’ve tried. I ran 35:15 in  2015 and thought I was getting to close to it then, but it has taken another three years to do it.

“I had a disappointing run in the Scottish championships at Stirling earlier in the month but I knew I had a good performance in me. I didn’t care what it looked like at the end, I just wanted to do it and I am so pleased.”

Edinburgh AC’s Ella Revitt was only a few secs outside her personal best when finishing second in 35:35 while Rosanna Andrews (Rugby ad Northampton) finished third in 37:08 while Julie Hendry  (Metro Aberdeen) was first over-40, 11th overall, 40:04

HICKEY AND MACDONALD TAKE THE HONOURS IN BAXTERS RIVER NESS 5KM

Ross County AC’s Hamish Hickey won the Baxters River Ness 5km for the second year in a row. The 17 year-old, who recently started a sports studies course at Stirling University, recorded 16min 22secs, which is 50secs quicker than his 2017 winning time. He said:” I’m happy with that. It’s slower than my best for the distance but I just wanted to run it at my 10km pace, so it’s fine. This is my last road race of the season so my next competition will be the North District cross country relays at the beginning of October.”

Lucas Cairns and his Inverness Harriers clubmate Euan Rollo repeated their positions from 2017 by finishing second and third respectively.

Grace MacDonald (Inverness Harriers) a 12 year-old pupil at Millburn Academy in Inverness, was first girl in a personal best time of 19:27. She said: “I didn’t expect to win so I am very pleased. It’s also my fastest time as my previous best 5km was 20:38. Last year I was fourth so this is a big improvement.”

Anna Cairns (Inverness Harriers) was second and Ruby Wittka-Jezewski (Ross County AC) finished third.

Entries for the 2019 Baxters Loch Ness marathon and festival of running taking place 6 October 2019 are open now at www.lochnessmarathon.com

Announcements

Etape Loch Ness hits million pound fundraising milestone for Macmillan Cancer Support

The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon won Best Marathon (<5000 participants) at the 2017 Running Awards in London (April 2017). Thanks to everyone who voted for us! #runlochness

The Scottish Highland Experience. Surrounding events, race information, course map and signup.Inverness Half Marathon