CATIE O’Donoghue is ready to kick-start her autumn racing campaign in the Midland Counties Road Relay Championships this weekend, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The Swindon runner will link up with her Bristol & West AC team-mates for the trip to Sutton Park, Birmingham, for her first serious competition having returned to action after a quiet summer last week with two half marathons.

Firstly, she ran the home town event in Swindon, finishing fourth in a personal best time of 86mins 49secs, and then seven days later, claimed third spot in the Worcester half in 88mins 00secs.

Little wonder, then, that the Lakeside runner is looking forward to a swift, sharp 5k in the traditional season opener on Saturday.

“I had intended to run the Swindon half as a training run but got a bit carried away to finish fourth in a big personal best,” said O’Donoghue.

“I then went to Worcester because a friend of mine organises the race and I wanted to support her. I had forgotten how hilly it was but I finished in 88 minutes exactly, which was my fastest time on the course so I was pleased with that.

“Overall it was a good week.”

O’Donoghue’s time in Swindon carved almost 20 minutes off her previous best set four years earlier and puts her 22nd in the South West Rankings and fifth fastest in Wiltshire behind Ruth Barnes (Avon Valley Runners), Hannah Claydon (Swindon), Holly Rush (AVR) and Eilidh Bell (Team Bath).

“It will be nice now to switch to a shorter race and I really love the road relays,” added O’Donoghue.

“I love racing with the other girls in the club and the atmosphere at the relays is great. It is definitely one of my favourite events.

“But my favourite is probably cross-country, so I am looking forward to getting back into that again with the leagues and the Tri-Counties Championships (which she won last year) and the ‘National’.

“I have been saving myself for the winter having done only a few events in the summer and just chilling out so I am raring to go again.”