WHEN Robbie Simpson says he is looking forward to catching up with Callum Hawkins again thankfully he only means it in the figurative sense. All those hard yards completed by the Deeside-based Scot on the Alpine mountain-running circuit paid dividends when he ran past the prone body of his friend and countryman less than 2km from the finish to secure a fine Commonwealth bronze medal in the Gold Coast just over a year ago, but hopefully things will be rather less dramatic when the two men will meet up for the first time since then on the other side of the globe tomorrow for the Virgin Money London Marathon. Another blessing is the fact that conditions on the streets of the capital are forecast to be 15 degrees and cloudy for what will be Hawkins’ first outing over 26.2miles since wilting in that unremitting Queensland sun.

“We don’t meet up so much because I tend to run the mountains in the summer,” said Simpson. “We haven’t met up since the Gold Coast but it will be good to catch up again, I am sure he is back to his normal self again and will be able to post a very good result. I look forward to that actually because I am sure he did have quite a tough time coming back from it.”

If Hawkins’ fall to earth in Australia cast a shadow over the remainder of his 2018, the opposite was the case for Simpson. That bronze medal provided the springboard for a stellar season in the Swiss Alps, with first place finishes in the mountain marathons of Jungfrau in Interlaken and Zermatt. If he was slowed down somewhat by picking up an unfortunate back problem in September, the crowded bustling roads of the UK capital could hardly be more different to the peaks and valleys where Simpson spends his summers, harvesting quite a collection of unlikely trophies. “I’ve won a wheel of cheese and other random things,” said Simpson. “I’ve also got a trophy like an old milk jug, it is solid metal and it must weigh about 30-odd kilos. I got halfway through the wheel of cheese and had to leave the rest of it. But I couldn’t bear to throw it out so it has just been sitting there.”

With Eliud Kipchoge – the fastest ever man over 26.2 miles - and Mo Farah expected to battle things out at the front of a race which is being started by Scotland’s very own Andy Murray, the backdrop to the race has been an unseemly spat between Farah and Haile Gebrselassie over the theft of money from Farah’s hotel room in Ethiopia. Simpson has a refreshingly uncomplicated way of looking at things; let them do their thing, run your own race, finish strong and see where it takes you. Even in the event that he breaks 2.13 and finishes in the top two to secure a spot in the GB squad for the World Championships in Doha, there are no guarantees that he would forego his usual Swiss summer sojourn.

“I was maybe out for ten weeks or something,” he said. “Generally it has been quite a good build up, although my 10ks and half marathons have been in terrible weather so I haven’t been able to get a fast time in and see what shape I am in.”

“I have got to be realistic, Kipchoge has run the fastest times in the world ever, so I am not going to be anywhere near him. It will be about trying to compete with the other British guys but even then there is a really good British field. There is quite a small chance of me making the team but even if I did, I wouldn’t say there and then that I would do it, because I quite enjoy going out and competing in the Alps in the summer.”