Former Commonwealth Games marathon man Graham Laing, pictured, will run in his home city for the first time in 28 years when he tackles the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run 10km on 27th August, following a hip replacement.
The 60 year-old Inverness-based athlete was one of the country's top distance runners in the late 1970's and early 1980's and is now making a comeback on the masters scene after recovering from major hip surgery.
He was Scottish 10,000m track champion in 1979 and later that year won the Aberdeen marathon. Laing defended his Aberdeen title in 1980 and the following year finished fifth in the first London marathon, recording 2hrs 13 min 45secs which is still the 14th fastest ever run by a Scottish athlete. He also performed well in the marathon at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, finishing seventh in 2:14:54.
The former Great Britain and Scotland international has been living in Inverness since 1989, the year in which he last competed in Aberdeen, finishing third in the city’s half marathon.
Now he is eagerly looking forward to lacing up his trainers and taking to the streets which were so familiar to him three decades ago when he would regularly pound out 100 miles each week in training.
He said: “It should be really exciting to run in my home town again especially as the course goes up Carden Place and past Queen’s Cross, both of which are very close to where I lived for so long. Finishing on Union Street will also be a fantastic experience. It’s absolutely brilliant that an event like this is being held in Aberdeen and I’m sure it will be well supported.”
In his prime Laing was a hardy competitor and in more recent years he has had to show more of the steely determination that won him so many honours to battle his way back to fitness after requiring a replacement hip.
He underwent surgery in January 2016 but within a few months was back doing some light jogging and by August of that year he managed to complete a 10 mile race at Nethybridge.
He said: “I was on crutches to begin with, but once I got a little stronger I went out to try my first run. To begin with all I could manage was about two minutes but I gradually increased it, just taking my time, and eventually was able to build up to do the 10 mile run.”
Laing, who helps coach some of the youngsters at Inverness Harriers, is now running at least six days a week, frequently getting out twice a day. He said:”I do a nice easy 30 minutes every morning then on a Tuesday evenings I do a track session with the junior endurance group at Inverness. I do my own track session on a Thursday evening then a long run, maybe for a couple of hours, on a Sunday.”
He has been doing well in age group competitions, regularly running half marathons in
around 1hr 28mins and he recently completed a 10km in a fraction over 39mins.
Laing said:“In the Great Aberdeen Run I’d like to get down to 38mins or maybe a little quicker. It will be interesting to see how it goes as I’ll be using it as a stepping stone to taking part in the Great Scottish Run half marathon in Glasgow in October.”
The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run is from the organisers of the Simplyhealth Great North Run, the world's biggest half marathon, held every year between Newcastle and South Shields.
It features a 10km, half marathon, family mile and business challenge, so offers opportunities for runners of all ages and levels of ability and experience. All the runs will start and finish on Union Street and the routes take in many of the city's key historic landmarks such as Marischal College, Castlegate, the Beach Ballroom and Brig O’Balgownie.
The event is being delivered in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, VisitAberdeenshire, and Aberdeen Inspired. It is being supported by the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan.
To sign up for the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run please visit greatrun.org/Aberdeen