Susan Partridge and Haile Gebrselassie illustrated that lavish helpings of confidence can deliver dominance as they emerged victorious in yesterday's Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run in Glasgow, setting out clear ambitions from the front of the field and then fulfilling their goals as others faded from the fray.
Such endeavours have long been expected from Gebrselassie of course. Partridge is still learning to cope with the hype generated by her tenth place finish at August's world championships. On evidence here, it is a burden she will wear lightly, becoming the first Scottish woman to win this race since Liz Lynch in 1992 and doing so in some style.
Based in Leeds, the 33-year-old intended to ease off upon her return from Moscow. Instead, personal bests and triumphs have become the norm. She was shadowed by Freya Ross and Kenya's Polline Wanjiku for the opening ten kilometres but, having decided that greater urgency was required, she accelerated and the pair could not respond.
Eventually finishing in 70 minutes and 40 seconds, it became a solo quest to the line in Glasgow Green. "It wasn't too bad," she admitted. "Running on your own is a lot easier when you're winning. It's harder when you're getting dropped. Mentally it's hard to stay focused. But I felt good. It helps having the TV bike there."
Wanjiku, a late replacement entry, had stoked her competitive fires the previous evening when the pair learnt they would share a hotel room, just weeks after they had pushed each other in a race in Bath. Partridge revealed: "She came in and said: 'I'm Polline'. I said: 'You ran in Bath'. And she said: 'Yes I beat you, you were number two.' It was friendly banter." The Scotswoman took welcome revenge, with Ross achieving a personal best of 71:51 to usurp Wanjiku for third, and Steph Twell coming third.
Gebrselassie was equally imposing as he produced the fastest half-marathon ever witnessed in Scotland. The 40-year-old's time of 61:09 was also a world record for his age group, the 28th global mark of his superlative career. As so often, he seized control of the race from the outset, setting the pace, shrugging off his rivals, one by one, and then eventually bidding farewell to Kenya's Emmanuel Bett with two miles remaining as he sped for home.
"He's a very tough guy," said the twice-Olympic 10,000 kilometres gold medallist. "I tried and tried to leave him behind but it took a long time to kick away from him. Around 15k, I knew this could be something good. I got there around 43 minutes and I knew then I could get under 61 minutes. I didn't know how close I could be but I'm happy with that."
Andrew Lemoncello was the leading Scottish finisher in sixth, thwarted narrowly in his bid to overhaul Englishman Chris Thompson and Spain's Jesus Espana after flying from his Arizona base the previous day. "I couldn't really get motoring and it was really hard from start to finish," the Fifer said. "Unfortunately, I separated early on from Chris and Jesus and that only made it tougher."
Earlier, Beth Potter and Hayley Haining had a duel of their own in the women's 10-kilometre race with the former prevailing by a mere second in a dip finish. "I found it quite hard," said Potter, who hopes to chase a Commonwealth Games qualifying time on the track in early spring. "I've only raced once lately in Aldershot but I was ill last week with the flu so I almost didn't race. It was a late decision when I felt better."
Callum Hawkins was a convincing winner in the men's race in 29:38 while behind, an estimated 30,000 runners of all varieties survived their own personal quests. "I felt all right," said Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, who was just inside 55 minutes. "The last bit, the legs were starting to go a bit but my pal Andy got me through it. I broke the hour but I was hoping to break 50 but I went off too slow at the start. Maybe I'll look at the half-marathon next year."