OLYMPIAN Andrew Butchart went back to school this week – aiming to inspire the next generation of runners.
Scottish distance running has been given a shot in the arm in recent years with the rise in stature of the likes of Callum Hawkins and Laura Muir, and Butchart is part of this revolution after a hugely successful year which saw him finish sixth in the 5,000m in the Rio Olympics, as well as breaking the Scottish 5,000m and 3,000m national records.
The 25-year-old visited Stirling High School on Tuesday, where he led a question and answer session with students who have embarked on a virtual marathon, which will run in tandem with the inaugural Stirling Scottish Marathon on Sunday, 21 May.
The marathon will see 6,500 runners taking on a scenic course around Stirlingshire, including Andrew’s home town of Dunblane, finishing beneath the imposing ramparts of Stirling Castle.
To mark the occasion, Stirling High School PE teacher Neil Durno thought that challenging his students to take on their own marathon would hopefully inspire them to become more active.
He said: “We wanted to create a buzz around the Stirling Marathon and having Andy here has certainly done that.
“Pupils have been really keen to get involved in this initiative. We want to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage our young people to push themselves to do something different.
“The question and answer session has inspired them to challenge themselves and see what resilience and hard work can help you achieve in all aspects of life” he said.
The students will be encouraged to run the marathon in the space of four school weeks, culminating in the Stirling Scottish Marathon, where former Olympians Liz McColgan and Zola Budd are taking part in the 26.2 mile event.
The students will log their miles on a running app, where Mr Durno has set them mini-challenges such as matching the pace of Sir Mo Farah’s final mile of a marathon.
After the question and answer session, where Andrew was quizzed on subjects such as training, exercise and nutrition, the Olympian led the students on a one-mile training run around the grounds of the school.
Andrew said: “It was great to visit the school and pass on my advice to the students who are taking on this marathon challenge.
“Running is a rewarding sport and is an easy way to get active. I wish the students the best of luck in their challenge and I am looking forward to the Stirling Scottish Marathon coming to the area.”
As well as the Stirling Scottish Marathon, the Great Stirling 5k takes place on the same day, with the family-friendly Thistles Great Stirling Family Run kicking off on Saturday, 20 May, around the grounds of the University of Stirling.
For more information, visit http://greatrun.org/stirling