26 December 2013
2013 has been a year of phenomenal progress for Rhona Auckland (coach: Joyce Hogg), but the 20 year old is looking ahead as she prepares to compete on home turf at the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry on January 11.
Auckland received her first senior GB & NI call up after placing seventh in the under 23 women’s race at the European Cross Country Championships in Serbia earlier this month, a performance that earned her team gold with the lowest points tally of any race on the day.
She reflects on her performance in Belgrade as an experience that will stand her in good stead for the future.
“I was really pleased with my run and how the pace worked out,” she said. “I felt quite strong working through the field which was good. It was quite a good learning curve; maybe next time I could go with the pace a bit more and see how I can handle it.
“The team medal was amazing. We had such a strong team and to have third, fourth, fifth and then seventh, eighth and 16th was such a solid group and it was cool to be part of that.
“It was a fantastic experience and it was great to have the whole weekend to get to know the team. Being one of the younger athletes on the team it was great to learn from the other girls and share their experiences. I really enjoyed it.”
The Scot is now looking ahead to competing in the city which is currently her home while she studies at Edinburgh University.
She continued: “To get my first senior vest is really exciting. I love Edinburgh, love the course and I train there quite a bit so it’s home ground for me.
“It’s a great event, it’s really well organised and the park is fantastic as a spectator friendly course so that you can see what’s going on the whole way round.”
This summer Auckland rewrote her personal bests from 1500m all the way up to 10,000m and represented GB & NI at the European Under 23 Championships in Tampere, Finland, finishing ninth in the 10,000m. Despite such a strong pedigree on both surfaces, the Banchory Stonehaven athlete says that she has no preference between cross country and track.
“I probably enjoy both the same. At the point where you start to get sick of one the season finishes and you’re on to the next one. I do enjoy doing a bit of a speed on the track and I think this season we’re going to do some shorter races to try and get some speed in my legs so I’m looking forward to that. But I’m not done with cross country yet so I’ll enjoy a bit more mud!”
There is plenty more mud and hills for Auckland to tackle to before her attention turns to track though and she is looking forward to a busy cross country schedule in the New Year.
“I’m going to go straight through; I’ve got the Scottish National and BUCS Championships in February so I’ll aim for them. Then I’ve got the Cross Challenge Final in Birmingham and the Home International in Scotland so if I can get onto the team for that it would be good.”
2014 is a big year for Scottish athletes as the Commonwealth Games come to Glasgow but Auckland insists that those championships are not on her radar at present.
“I don’t have any specific aims yet because we’ve just been focussing on the cross country season so far but I think 10,000m and 5,000m is where I’ll be looking to progress and set some more personal bests.
“In an ideal world I’d be looking at the Commonwealth Games but I think I’m a little bit off it at the moment. If it comes my way then I’ll definitely go for it but I’m not going to put any pressure on it and just see how things go; if it works out then it works out.”