England Vs Wales Masters 10k Road Race
By Paul Morris
I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming as I walked with the other Master athletes, including from Keswick AC Angus Wightman, Sam Ayers and Hazel Davies, to the start line of the Chester 10k on 12 March. There we were at the front of the start with about 150 other Master athletes resplendent in England and Wales Masters running vests. Behind us some three thousand other runners – talk about having a target on your back.
For those not familiar, like me a few months ago, with the England Athletics Masters programme it is for runners aged over 35 years divided into age bands. Qualification is through an annual programme of events.
How did I get to be wearing an England Masters vest? It all started with a post on the Keswick AC members site that the 2 January North Lakes 10k would be a qualification race. Looking at the qualification time I thought I would give it a go even if it was just after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year. To cut the story short Angus, Sam, Hazel and myself qualified and were then invited to represent England at Chester in a race against Wales.
Hazel car shared with me for the drive down on Saturday afternoon which was relatively stress free even if it was through heavy sleet/rain. Angus had a far more stressful journey and in his words:
Our son was running in the inter-counties XC in Loughborough on Saturday so we headed down to Loughborough on Friday evening – looking forward to an exiting weekend of running. On arrival in Loughborough we discovered, in all the excitement, that I’d left my bag of kit at home!!! Panic. A ‘discussion’ followed along the lines of who was to blame for the lack of MY kit bag. (I’ll leave the conversation to your imagination).
I was all for jumping in the car and drive back to Cumbria. Then Andrea remembered Emma Cooper (one of our wonderful KAC juniors coaches) ‘just happened’ to be going to a family do in Loughborough on Saturday ….. quick call to Emma and she agreed to our cunning plan. So Emma went to our house and ‘broke in’ in the early hours (don’t think she was spotted by our neighbours?) got THE bag and we collected after Mucah’s race on Saturday – Phew!!! Massive shout out to the amazing Emma. If it wasn’t for Emma I would have been wearing a very ill fitting & very muddy team Cumbria kit.
So, we all managed to arrive safely in Chester with our England kit and gather at the English Athletics hotel conference room for the collection of back numbers. One of the features of the Masters races is that you have to have your age category on your back.
The weather gods smiled on us on race day, not raining, temperature risen to 7C. and the roads dry. Team photo and then walk to the start line which turned out to be only 2 mins away so most spent about 20 mins jumping and running around to keep the legs warm.
Chester was really a race within a race – the race open to the public being the MBNA Chester 10k with the England v Wales Masters embedded in it. Being an international there is a scoring method to determine the winning country. After reading it the only thing that stuck in my mind was run as fast as you can for 10k and finish with as many as possible Welsh vests behind you.
The course was on closed roads starting at Chester Racecourse. From the melee of a tight and twisty start the route opened up on to wider roads. As the race settled down I spotted a Welsh vest with my age category with a couple of England M65s giving chase. Thought I would tuck in behind but found the pace fast, boy was it fast, but manged to hang on for a few kilometres before they pulled away and disappeared into the distance. By this time we were out in the countryside before heading back into the city centre. I am sure someone said the course was flat but there seemed to be a long uphill, ok incline, as we entered the city. A few twists and turns to finish in the historic centre of Chester. We must have passed many notable historic buildings but all I can remember is the road ahead and trying to sprint for the finish line.
To the results.
England won the overall team prize.
The Master runner results are included in the overall race results and the following are by category for all runners not just those in the Masters.
Angus 12th in the M50 category in a time of 37:26.
Sam 11th in the F50 category in a time of 45:29
Hazel 10th in the F55 category in a time of 44:24
Paul 9th in the M65 category in a time of 42:20
For me that’s a PB so I’m happy.
Finally a note of thanks to England Athletics for giving me an insight into how it probably feels for elite athletes, in particular the changing facilities at an hotel, no queuing in the cold for portaloos for us. What an experience and honour to be wearing an England Masters vest.