ALREADY one member of the Hawkins family is guaranteed to be on the start line when the delayed Tokyo 2020 marathon gets underway next summer. What chance a second?

Derek Hawkins certainly hopes as much. The elder brother of Callum - already assured of his Olympic place - is now looking to plot a course that would allow him to reprise the scenario from four years ago when the siblings competed together at the Rio Games.

Of course, making plans is difficult for anyone involved in elite sport right now. Already this autumn’s Berlin and New York marathons have fallen by the wayside, while doubts remain over whether the London event  - rearranged from April – will go ahead as planned in October.

There may be an opportunity for the 31 year-old to return to run the Frankfurt course where he set his personal best time (2:12:49) last year, although organisers have admitted it’s currently looking “unlikely” that it will go ahead.

For the time being Hawkins will continue to run loops around Renfrewshire near the family home in Elderslie - as he has been doing since lockdown began - and wait to see how the picture crystallizes.

“In terms of running, my routine hasn’t really changed over the last few months,” said the Kilbarchan AAC athlete. “The roads and cycle paths were pretty congested at the start of lockdown as everyone seemed to be either out running, cycling or walking their dogs but I still got out there every day.
“We’re now looking at plans for later in the year but everything is still unsettled. A lot of the bigger marathons have either been called off or are still in doubt.

“We’re looking at London in October although I can’t see it going ahead in its normal capacity. The suggestion was they were moving towards a virtual event although they could maybe still put on an elite race alongside that.

“Frankfurt was one that Callum had potentially thought about running but the announcers don’t seem overly confident about it going ahead. For both of us it’s about waiting and seeing what events survive and taking it from there.”

One race that hopes to beat the virus restrictions is the Hamburg marathon in September. With a ban on any large events taking place in Germany until October 24, organisers are keeping their fingers crossed that their drastically-altered hygiene programme will allow them to proceed.

That would mean different start and finish areas, runners starting in staggered groups 10 minutes apart, participants wearing a scarf with a breathing filter to start and finish, and restricted spectating points. Hawkins remains sceptical.

“I’m not sure about that,” he added. “If you had pacemakers it might make it a little bit easier. It would be great if it was doable but I don’t know how it will all work with social distancing guidelines and the rest.

“Having a crowd can certainly help you in sections of a marathon, in London especially, but I’ve done plenty of races over the year when it’s been two men and a dog watching. In Frankfurt there are a lot of stretches with no people so that aspect is something I could handle if need be.”

The most important date in his calendar, however, is next year’s London Marathon in April 2021. Selection for Tokyo will be based on how competitors perform around that course and Hawkins hopes to again seize the moment.

One of three British men to qualify four years ago – Tsegai Tewelde was the other –  the Paisley-born athlete hopes to again deliver a performance strong enough to join Callum on the plane to Japan.

There is a feeling that he has something to prove after finishing 114th in Rio with a time of 2:29:24 after rushing back from injury to compete.

“Everything I’m doing now is about improving my chances of making it to the Olympics,” added Hawkins, still working as an athletics coach alongside his own training programmes.

“Making the trial in April is probably the fairest way to do it given anyone running this winter is going to be going into races having not had much help in terms of physio or strength & conditioning.

“It’s a nice weight off Callum’s mind to not have to qualify and I’d love to be there with him in Tokyo. I went to the last one but only started running again 11 days before it because of injury. In that one it was just about getting around the course best I could. It wasn’t quite the experience I hoped it could be.

“I’m desperate to get back to another Olympics to try to put in a much better performance on that stage. That thought will get me through the next year.”