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World Cup champion Douglas setting his sights on world championships in Thailand in November

By Alan Hendry

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Andrew Douglas competing in the World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina in 2019. Picture: WMRA
Andrew Douglas competing in the World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina in 2019. Picture: WMRA

Mountain running champion Andrew Douglas says the world championships in Thailand will be his main target for 2021.

The 34-year-old from Halkirk hopes Covid-19 restrictions will have eased to allow him to begin the defence of his World Cup Series title in the summer.

But the "big goal for the season" will be the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running Championships, to be held at Chiang Mai in northern Thailand in November.

“That's probably going to be realistic from the perspective of them being able to host a world championships," Douglas said this week. "If I can make that my primary goal then hopefully I can prepare for it by getting some racing done over the summer as well.”

Thailand would be a different experience for Douglas as he has never raced there before. "It would be completely new, so that's really exciting," he said.

"With the last world championships being in Argentina they are really taking it globally. It's an exciting prospect to be racing across the world in that way."

Over four days at Chiang Mai (November 11-14), the championships programme will include vertical uphill mountain races, short and long trail races for senior athletes and classic mountain races for both seniors and juniors.

In 2019, Douglas became World Cup Series champion for a second time. The 2020 World Cup was one of many sporting events to be cancelled because of the pandemic but this year's competition is scheduled to start in June.

Edinburgh-based Douglas says he is training well as he aims for a return to competitive running when the time is right.

“I'm getting in some good miles," he said. "I'm probably averaging about 90 miles a week at the moment, which is pretty solid for winter training. Hopefully I can get back to racing in the summer.

“Sophie Dunnett, my coach, put together some really good training sessions for me, so that set me up really nicely and I am continuing with the work.”

If the World Cup Series does go ahead in four months' time, Douglas will not want to miss out.

"It's so difficult at the moment but I am hopeful that, even if international travel generally hasn't opened up, they might be able to get some exemptions for athletes being able to compete abroad," he said.

"I acknowledge that mountain running is very much a niche sport so I might not be able to get those privileges easily.

“If I miss out the first few races then you are kind of playing catch-up, and that means the latter part of the season can become very race-heavy. Ideally it would be good to start racing around about that time.

"It would be nice to try and defend my title. That would be great."

He added: "At the moment it seems they're still planning for the European Mountain Running Championships at the start of July to go ahead, although they are in Portugal which is currently on the red list. Things are going to have to improve quite drastically for that to happen."

In the meantime, Douglas, who works as a financial analyst, will continue clocking up the miles close to home. He said: "It's about maintaining my training and trying to be in as good a shape as I can and be ready for when those races do come round."

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