Balmoral Castle the backdrop to the race

Top North-East Youngster Targets Balmoral Return - 19 January 2010

One of North-East Scotland's brightest young distance running prospects is keen to compete in this year's Balmoral Rod Races. Rhona Auckland, 16, scored the biggest win of her career when she lifted the Scottish inter-district cross country title at Edinburgh's Holyrood Park in early January.

The Torphins teenager, who competes for Banchory Stonehaven AC, hope for further cross country success this year, but also admits the Balmoral Road Races feature in her sights. Auckland showed great composure in securing her Edinburgh victory over a difficult course. She didn't let the deep covering of snow affect her performance as she glided to victory by covering the 3.9km circuit in 17 min 7 secs.

Rhona said: "I was absolutely delighted to win. It was a bit of a surprise really, as it hadn't crossed my mind beforehand that this might happen." She believes her improvement over the past couple of months comes from a more focused training regime.

She continued by saying: "I think I'm benefiting from getting more consistency in my training and having clear goals."

"I get sprint training from Willie Russell at Banchory and I go to Aberdeen to do my endurance work with Joyce and Ken Hogg. That seems to be working."

Rhona will compete in February's national cross country championships but April's Balmoral event is also a priority.
She finished runner-up behind Aberdeen AAC's Pam Tosh in the ConocoPhillips 5K last year and is keen to have another bash at the big race.

She said: "I'll definitely be doing it again. I've done the younger age group races there in the past but last year was my first 5K." Rhona will face some tough opposition as Tosh also intends competing.


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