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Czech bounces Douglas out of world title glory bid


By Matt Leslie


Halkirk's Andrew Douglas pounds the track in the World Mountain Running Championships in the Patagonia region of Argentina. The World Cup series champion finished a disappointing seventh. Picture: WMRA
Halkirk's Andrew Douglas pounds the track in the World Mountain Running Championships in the Patagonia region of Argentina. The World Cup series champion finished a disappointing seventh. Picture: WMRA

Argentina proved to be a bridge too far for Andrew Douglas as a clash with another athlete ensured checkmate was called on his bid for world championship glory.

The Halkirk mountain-runner was highly fancied to add this title to the World Cup Series crown he won this year, only things did not go entirely to plan.

Douglas finished a disappointing seventh – crossing the line in a time of 1hr 06 min 22 sec.

The race was won by Joe Gray of the United States (1:05:13), second was Italy's Cesare Maestri (1:05:21) and in third spot was Marek Chrascina of the Czech Republic (1:05:57).

But it was an incident with Chrascina that proved to be pivotal as Douglas's chances of a podium finish came a cropper.

He said: "I'm gutted, to be honest. I'm really happy with how I approached and ran it, but unfortunately an incident beyond my control put pay to my medal chances.

"On the river crossing at the top of the course the marshals instructed us to cross it via the bridge. One of the Czech athletes in front of me [Chrascina] ignored those instructions and instead went straight through the river before cutting in front of me, trying to haul himself onto the bridge.

"This caused me to fall off and my leg got trapped in one of the gaps, and by the time I was freed and at the other side of the crossing I'd lost too much time.

"We set quite a fast pace from the start, I guess because the trail got quite narrow – you didn't want to get stuck behind many folk. Joe [Gray] managed to get a good gap at the top of the course, but Cesare [Maestri] was never out of my sight until the river crossing.

"I would have loved to have been on that podium and it would have been the icing on the cake for this season. But I wouldn't change anything.

Had it not been for the fall at the river crossing I was in a great position to medal.

"When you race that much you've got to accept that there will be highs and lows and the highs I've had this year have been the best in my entire career.

"It's just really unfortunate that the last race, and ultimately the pinnacle of my season, was determined by something that was nothing to do with my form or the shape I was in. I still think had it not been for the fall at the river crossing I was in a great position to medal."

One consolation for Douglas is that he has been nominated for the Scottish Athlete of the Year award with his coach, Sophie Dunnett, who is from Thurso, also being nominated for the Performance Coach of the Year prize. The ceremony takes place this Saturday at a gala evening in Glasgow's Hilton Hotel.

He added: "It's a huge honour and really humbling to be alongside athletes who have achieved so much this year. It's great recognition for our particular discipline as well as my coach, Sophie, to be nominated.

"Hopefully it encourages more athletes to compete in hill and mountain running as it's pretty amazing for a country of this size to be a world leader in mountain running.

"Sophie has played a huge role in my running career. It's been 10 years that we've worked together, and I know plenty of other athletes in that time who have had multiple coaches, so that really is testament to how well we work as a team.

"As an individual athlete you are the best judge of your own body and capabilities, but to have someone whose guidance and empathy you can fully trust in is invaluable and I'm very fortunate to have that in Sophie.

"She has a certain manner in working with athletes that I feel is the exception rather than the norm in coaches that makes the achievements feel like their deserved, and the failures like they are there to be learned from and overcome."



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