HALKIRK distance athlete Andrew Douglas has travelled back to his family home to prepare himself to take on the top cross country runners in the world in Northern Ireland.
The former mountain running series world champion will compete in a star-studded field at the IAAF Antrim International Cross Country on January 6.
The 31-year-old took part in the race two years ago when he finished in an impressive 10th.
Now after recovering from injury he hopes he can put in another decent performance by fitting in training while he is back in Caithness.
“I have been selected for the Scotland squad and it is something I am really looking forward to after I have suffered from a period of tendonitis.
“It affected my cross country performance in recent months, especially during the European trials where I wanted to do a lot better but my injury meant things did not go to plan.
“However training over the last two or three weeks has been going quite well and I am looking to push things on.”
Living in Edinburgh where he works in the financial sector, Douglas came home for the festive season to spend time with family.
But he is also using the opportunity to train with North Highland Harriers head coach Sophie Dunnett to prepare himself for the IAAF events as well as the 2018 mountain running season.
“I am definitely making the most of my training while I am here.
“When I am back I like to train and I am planning to be doing several reps up and down Dorrery.
“I also enjoy training at Loch More where I do a 13 mile up and around Westerdale on a single-track dirt road.
“It is always so quiet to train on as you barely pass anyone while enjoying some nice scenery at the same time.”
At the 2017 world mountain running championships in Italy, Douglas finished ninth but was later promoted to eighth after Petro Mamu from Eritrea tested positive in a drugs test and received a nine-month ban.
He also finished seventh at the European Mountain Running Championship in Slovenia last July which by his own standards was disappointing.
Looking forward to this year’s championship in Macedonia and the world championship in Andorra, he hopes he can improve his placings from last year.
“I would say the performance at the world championship was one of my best as the quality of the field was really high,” he said.
“It made up for the disappointment of the European championships where before the race I had high hopes of doing well.
“I didn’t think that I ran badly, but the conditions on the day just didn’t suit me.
“I am putting a lot of emphasis on the European championship in Macedonia this year.
“The course has a lot of ups and down which I am suited to competing in so I will definitely make that race one of my big objectives.
“But I am also looking forward to the world championships in Andorra as it is a place I have competed before so it should be good.”