CALLUM HAWKINS is gunning to be the first Scottish winner of an event which he feels has helped him on the journey towards being a star marathon runner.
The Scottish 24-year-old finished ninth over 26.2miles in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after securing his selection for Great Britain with an eighth-place finish in the London Marathon back in April.
Hawkins puts his marathon journey down to his participation in 2014’s Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run half marathon, an event he went on to finish second at in 2015 – and one he is looking to win on Sunday.
“I’m going to put myself in the mix, go for it, and see if I can improve on last year,” said Hawkins, who, along with brother Derek and Tsegai Tewelde were the Scottish representatives in the Olympic marathon.
“First time I did this event was 2013, in the 10k, then in 2014 when I ran 63.06 in the half marathon which sparked my interest in doing the marathon in Rio.
“Where I am right now is down to this event, it put me on the path. I’d be doing 10ks still if it wasn’t for this half marathon.”
The last British male winner of the 13.1 mile run through the centre of Glasgow came in 1993, and there has been no homegrown winner in the biggest running event in Scotland.
Hawkins, riding the crest of the wave following the resurgence in Scottish distance running, wants to change that.
He added: “There has never been a Scottish winner over the half marathon here. It’s definitely an opportunity to change that this year.
“You just need to look at Scottish athletics in general, we had 15 folk at the Olympics, most of them were endurance.
“Scottish running is on the up and up. To get a Scottish winner would be fantastic for the event and it would hopefully spark the next generation to keep going, too.”
Hawkins will find opposition in Tewelde, who joined him in Rio, and Moses Kipsiro, who won last year’s event.
Ugandan Kipsiro is looking forward to returning to a city where he feels he belongs.
Kipsiro said: “It’s my favourite to run in Glasgow. I just like it. There’s something in the heart. I feel free and I feel comfortable so I enjoy it here. The people and the place makes it.
“You get so much cheering and support. The city is my favourite place to be. The weather is not so good but I don’t mind that when I’m running.
“The people of Glasgow may want a Scottish man to win this event but when they are cheering him, they’ll also be cheering me, so I’ll take that.”
Meanwhile, in the women’s race, Betsy Saina is also looking to improve on her own second place in the Great Scottish Run when she returns to Glasgow this weekend.
Triple Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba was forced to pull out of the event with a calf injury, but that does not necessarily mean that Saina, who finished runner-up to winner Edna Kiplagat a year ago, will have an easy ride in Glasgow.
Her gameplan is simple – run fast and see where it takes her.
She said: ”I love Scotland. It’s going to be so exciting to see what happens this weekend. The big thing is whether it will be fast. I really want to run fast in a half marathon. I want to run a fast half marathon before doubling the distance in the marathon.
“This weekend is to try and see if I can be competitive, see what I can do. I’ve had a break and I’ve been training for a couple of weeks now, and we’ll see what happens.”
Watch All The Action
Tune in to watch the live coverage of the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run on Sunday 2 October on BBC Two Scotland from 11:00 – 13:45.
For viewers outside of Scotland, the programme is available to watch in a number of ways:
If you have Freeview, it is live on the Red Button service (channel 200), or by pressing red on your remote control.
If you have satellite, search the BBC regional channels in your electronic programme guide for BBC Two Scotland
Or you can watch it live online on both the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website
You will also be able to watch it on catch-up via the iPlayer
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