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Scots athletes for Africa training

Freya Murray

Freya Murray

Four Scottish endurance athletes head for Kenya after this weekend with London 2012 looming on the horizon.

Specialised altitude training in Africa will be perfect for the likes of Olympic hopeful  Steph Twell, while Freya Murray will use this opportunity as preparation for her first marathon in London this spring.

Scottish cross country champion Derek Hawkins and Beth Potter are the other two Scots who will make the month-long trip.

And while UK Athletics have funded the trip for Great Britain international Twell, the other three are grateful to the support supplied by scottishathletics.

The quartet will be in Kenya from January 10 to February 9 and at certain stages they could even be training with the likes of Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe.

It will be vital training and experience for all concerned and the bad news for the rest of the field at the Scottish National Cross Country Championships is that Derek and Freya will be back in Britain in time to defend their titles at Falkirk in February!

Kilbarchan athlete Derek, 22, had to persuade his lecturers at Glasgow University that the chance was too good to miss.

‘We head to London on January 9 and then fly to Kenya the following day,’ he told the scottishathletics website.

‘We will be out there for a full four weeks and I am looking forward to it. It was advertised through the UK Athletics website and I wanted to see if we could put something together for me to go out there.

‘Thankfully scottishathletics have made that happen after I expressed an interest. I was told when I was in Liverpool for the Euro Cross Country trial.

‘Steph Twell will be there on UK funding and myself, Freya Murray and Beth Potter are going with help from scottishathletics.

‘I would imagine we will be running every day out there and of course it is at altitude and it is my first experience of that.

‘I don’t know much yet about the sessions and the first few days will be about adapting to the conditions. There will be UK coaches there working with us and I believe at some stage that the likes of Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe will be there.

‘I am in second year at Glasgow University and although I was advised not to go we do feel that it is too good an opportunity to turn down. I am studying Physiology and Sports Science.

‘I should have time to study while I am out there, I will have internet access and hopefully I won’t lose out on too much of the course work.

‘My plan would be to come back from there and run again at Falkirk in the Scottish National Cross Country Championships.’

Edinburgh AC athlete Freya won the women’s title that day at Falkirk last February and Derek proved his class after various age-group wins earlier in his career.

‘Last year’s Senior Scottish was probably the most significant win of my career,’ said Hawkins, pictured here with UK track legend Roger Black at the scottishathletics awards night last October.

‘I’ve won other races at various age group levels and a London mini marathon event but the Scottish senior title carries the most meaning for me probably. It would be great to do it again but first I will focus on the event at the Edinburgh Cross Country and then Kenya.’

*Three of the four Kenya-bound Scots will feature in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team competing in International races in Holyrood Park this weekend in the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country event.

Steph, Freya and Derek will be involved with two more Scottish athletes – Laura Muir of Dundee Hawkhill and Amy Campbell of Shaftesbury Barnet – also taking part.

That gives Scotland a five-strong representation in the GB team after six athletes featured at the European Cross Country in Slovenia in December.

It is a special occasion in particular for Amy as she lands her first GB vest while Laura will run for Britain and also count for Scotland in the Celtic Nations.

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