SARAH INGLIS laughs at the irony at being mistakenly listed as an American by the organisers of the Marathon Project in Arizona where she will complete her first official 26-miler just before Christmas.

Seven years after flitting from West Lothian to western Canada, her Scottish accent remains as strong as ever.

“I don’t know how that mistake came about,” says the PE teacher down the line from Langley in British Columbia, an hour’s drive from Vancouver.

“I reckon it would be impossible for me to ever switch allegiances anyway as I’d get exposed as a fraud as soon as people heard my voice!

“Half the kids I teach I’m sure can’t understand me, especially when I’m wearing my mask. My training group have picked up my accent by now but if any new folk join us it takes them a while to work out what I’m saying.”

Luckily for Scottish and British Athletics the 29-year-old has no plans to try out for another country. Her marathon debut is to test the waters ahead of the London race in March that will also double as an Olympic qualifier.

The postponement of the Tokyo Games has undoubtedly given Inglis an unexpected opportunity, although she is also retaining the possibility of still entering the 10,000m as back-up.

“This is the first time for me and also the first time my coach, Mark Bomba, has trained someone for a marathon so we’re both just experimenting a bit.

“We’re not overcooking it. Ideally I’d like to run an Olympic standard in Arizona and tick that off, and then recover fast enough for London in March.

“The Olympic delay has definitely given me an opportunity to go for the marathon. And this race in Arizona just came up and it seemed like ideal timing to go for it.

“The 10,000m is still an option as the competition even for qualifying for the marathon is really deep. And there might be enough time to recover and try for 10K on the track later on if need be.”

Training for her first crack at this distance has gone well, even if some of her more inquisitive pupils wonder why she just does not drive to school instead of running.

“We’ve gradually built up the volume of the sessions. Last week I ran 25 miles which gave me confidence that I can do it. I still felt good at that point so if I feel like that in the race then I’d be delighted.

“I do most of my running to and from school so on some days I’ll do 10 to 14 miles on the way in. Some of the kids see me and think I’m out for a jog or I’m running late! One of them asked why I didn’t get a car – I don’t think they understood that I was training and running by choice.”

Working in a school also presents its own logistical problems when trying to stay healthy ahead of the trip to the United States.

“The race organiser emailed us asking us to limit our exposure to the virus but not sure how I can do that when I’m teaching 400 kids a week at school! But I’ve got my mask on and the gym hall doors open to try to be as safe as I can.”

Inglis may be based some 7,000km from home but she remains very much on the Scottish Athletics radar.

“I’m part of the Marathon project that Robert Hawkins has put together so he’s in touch a fair bit,” the Edinburgh-born runner says.

“Then there’s Mark Pollard at Scottish Athletics who emails back and forward plus their social media team who are great at giving me wee mentions here and there too which is good.

“Scottish Athletics have also been helping me cover some costs for Arizona as Covid tests are nearly [Canadian] $400 [£230] a pop and I need to get two of them, plus flights and hotels. That financial help makes a big difference.”

Inglis broke through more than a decade ago in a group of promising athletes that included Eilidh Doyle and Eilish McColgan. She hopes making the breakthrough in the next few years will belatedly afford her a similar profile to them.

“In Scottish athletics circles I’m fairly well known as I’ve been running since I was 10 years old but people new to the sport or the general public won’t have a clue who I am,” she admits.

“If I can get to the Olympics and then the Commonwealth Games the year after that would help. I’m coming up for 30 years old so it would be nice to start making these teams and maybe become a bit better known.”