FOR Philippa Millage, the journey to international athletics has been a long road. At 37, she will become among the oldest debutants for Scotland following a late summons into the 4x1km relay team for the Great Edinburgh International at Holyrood Park on Saturday, proof that age should be no barrier to inclusion.

Based at Glasgow’s Victoria Park club, Millage is the ultimate late bloomer, having only taken baby steps into the sport seven years ago in her native Dumfries when she felt the need to energise her spare time and took a speculative trip to the local track.

“There is a coach down there called David Hood and he saw some potential in me and told me to do a little more, which got me into it,” she said. “I moved to Glasgow and then Bill Parker, who is my current coach, spotted me. I’d literally lived there one day when he came up to me at Scotstoun, said: ‘Who are you?’ What do you do? I’m going to be your coach.’

“He said that when he first saw me he saw potential. He also said my technique was horrendous and I needed help but, since then, the improvements have been massive. I went from running 2min 32sec for 800m to my current PB [personal best] which is 2:05. The training group is amazing which helps but Bill has been fantastic.”

It is a conclave that includes world indoor championship finalist Jo Moultrie, whose withdrawal created a vacancy that Millage eagerly filled, and the exciting middle-distance prospect Mhairi Hendry who joined Parker’s programme after parting ways with Laura Muir’s mentor Andy Young last year.

“That’s been great because there are certain strengths she’s got and certain ones I have,” Millage said. “So we’re playing off each other.”

Muir will be among her opposition in Edinburgh, the toughest of initiations at the international level. It will be a step up from the domestic competitions where Millage has steadily pushed herself up the rankings, not yet ready to fling herself into the Masters circuit where victories may come easier but where the challenge would come with limitations.

“If I can still compete against seniors, why not give it my all? I made the British indoor final last year and I’ve got my eye on it again this year, although the competition at 800m is just insane with the depth of the field and the talent that’s out there. I’m definitely not looking at Masters. It’s at the back of my mind but at the moment, I want to take on the senior competition.”

She will take a moment to inhale the atmosphere below Arthur's Seat. Such an opportunity has been a long time coming. It may, in reality, not come again and Millage will make the most of each moment. The vest will doubtless be framed.

“It’s a strange event because it’s one kilometre so it’s not a distance any of us do regularly,” she said. “I can just do my best and see how we get on. I’m very competitive so I plan to hang on for dear life.”