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Benson letting her husband slide out of view as she attempts to stay in the running for Glasgow

Sarah Benson has by now grown accustomed to being a ship passing in the night with her husband as they travel the globe, at times in opposing directions.

Stuart Benson, second from left, is in Sochi. Picture: Getty
Stuart Benson, second from left, is in Sochi. Picture: Getty

Tomorrow the steeplechaser will take her place at the Scottish cross-country championships in relative anonymity as she gears up to chase a spot in Scotland's Commonwealth Games team. Her other half, Stuart, will take a much shorter run up by contrast, but in front of a worldwide audience, as a pushman in Great Britain's bobsleigh crew, whose bid for a medal will be played out over the closing weekend of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Two sporting dreams, united in matrimony. Sarah Benson has opted to stay at home rather than travel to Sochi for the final weekend, though, and will instead follow her Paisley-born spouse and his comrades on the television. Since Stuart, a RAF corporal normally stationed in Cosford, switched from sprints to sled three years ago, it has not always been an enjoyable experience for her.

"The first year, the team was quite new together and they had a couple of crashes," said Sarah. "I watched them on TV and it was horrible. But now, I don't feel quite as bad. I still don't like seeing it that much but it's not so much from a safety point of view. It's more I want them to do well."

On what could be her husband's crowning moment, Benson will be sitting on the sofa as the action hurtles by. Her instinct was to be to be in Russia this weekend but Benson took counsel from Mike Whittingham - the head of the sportscotland Institute of Sport, where she was employed as a talent manager until last autumn - and opted instead to stay at home.

With her Commonwealth ambitions mapped out already, Benson had attempted to steer a course between supporting other athletes and backing herself. "But I found myself in this vicious cycle of travelling on a Friday, racing on Saturday, getting home on Sunday and being back in the office on a Monday," she said. "Then I'd have a full working week before racing again. I did that for eight weeks in a row then crashed and burned in August. I picked up a virus which took me two months to get over."

She was granted a sabbatical to concentrate on making the grade in racing; her times on the track last summer were just shy of the qualifying standard. With a little extra focus it was hoped that the marks would be within reach.

She went into the indoor campaign with an early opportunity to impress, yet her husband's pursuit of bobsleigh places proved to be a distraction. "I probably under-estimated just how overwhelming the Olympic thing with Stuart would be," said Benson. "I find it quite hard to switch off from what's going on with his life."

Having abandoned her indoor plans, Benson will make only a tentative run on Saturday in Falkirk's Callendar Park. With Freya Ross heading the field, it will be a simple test of Benson's fitness before the real business in Glasgow this summer.

She intends to use a trip to the United States next month to make sure she is there to experience it.

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