It was a windy and overcast day for the South of England Masters Championships at Shuttleworth Park, Biggleswade on Saturday 12thDecember. This is a lovely park course, with one moderate hill, and firm going all the way around. Fortunately the forecast rain stayed off most of the day, but it was cool waiting around for the starts. Fortunately there was only one short leg where the wind made for hard going, parallel to the grass aerodrome, otherwise it was not a problem.
First off were the senior veteran men 50-69, with Richard Hooley the sole rep in the 50+ age group, running a solid race around the10k – 1 short and three long laps to finish in 41st place. In the 60+ category Simon Maddison worked steadily around to finish 10th.
Whilst the slower were still running, the ladies took off with a more complicated short, medium and long lap over 6k. Victoria Carter worked with the leading group, and it was only when one of the junior inter-county races overlapped that the group opened up, and she finished very well at 8th overall and just out of the medals at 4th in the 40-44 category. The remaining Valley ladies were closer together and working hard further down the field, with Barbara Maddison finishing strongly at 80, (19th W55), Frankie Lynch at 96 (28 W50) and Christine Munden at 99 (25th W45). With the division of ages, we did not make up a team in either 40 or 50+.
The final race of the day was the men’s M40 race, where those in the age group between 40 and 49 would be racing over the same 10k course as those in the M50 and M60 race earlier in the day.
Despite the wind growing stronger throughout the day, the rain which had been forecast thankfully stayed away for the duration of the race. Leading the line for the Valley men was Andrew Mitchell, who in his first ever Southern Masters championships made a positive start to the race running with a group inside the top 10 for the first lap, and despite having to run alone for most of the second half of the race still managed a big finish to overtake the man in front to finish in a very high-up 14th place overall.
Even more impressive was the fact that Andrew finished in 2nd place in the M45 race to win a well-deserved silver medal, an excellent result.
Next in and not too far behind was Paul Heaphy, who worked his way through the field after a steady start to finish in 20th place overall, a very fine performance for the youngster in his first ever Masters race, having joined the ranks of the Masters less than a week prior to the race and also taking a break from training due to an Achilles injury.
Another junior in his first year as a Master is Christian Nielsen, who showed a good sense of pace around the course to finish 38th overall, and as 3rd and final scorer for the team brought the Valley M40 team home in a very creditable 6th place out of 13th teams.
Seasoned master Steve Norris knew the course well but was unable to take full advantage, after a trip by train had left him stranded at the train station by an empty taxi rank waiting for transport to the course and his subsequent late arrival hindered his best efforts as he finished in 56th place. Close on Steve’s heels for most of the race was Greg Bennett, who was new to the course and acquitted himself very well, keeping Steve in his sights until just before the finish to bring him home just 5 places later in 61st place. The 6th and final Valley man on the team, Richard Bell, who also put in a good performance to better his time from last year’s race to finish in 71st place out of a total race field of 81 finishers.
Many thanks to Phil for driving the men’s team and picking up Steve at the station, and for the 40+ report above.
Race 1 – Men aged 40 to 49
14 Andrew Mitchell 36:05 ; 20 Paul Heaphy 36:52 ; 38 Christian Nielsen 38:56 ; 56 Steve Norris 40:37 ; 61 Greg Bennett 41:52 ;
71 Richard Bell 43:13 ; 81 finishers
Team 40-49: 6 Thames Valley Harriers 69
Men aged 40 to 44
13 Paul Heaphy 36:52 ; 20 Christian Nielsen 38:56 ; 31 Greg Bennett 41:52 ; 39 finishers
Race 1 – Men aged 45 to 49
2 Andrew Mitchell 36:05 ; 29 Steve Norris 40:37 ; 36 Richard Bell 43:13 ; 42 finishers
Race 2 – Men aged 50 to 54
41 Richard Hooley 42:55 ; 60 finishers
Race 2 – Men aged 65 to 69
10 Simon Maddison 58:08 ; 10 finishers
Masters – Ladies
8 Victoria Carter 24:21 ; 80 Barbara Maddison 32:22 ; 96 Frankie Lynch 36:14 ; 99 Christine Munden 36:58 ; 106 finishers
Masters – Ladies aged 40 to 44
4 Victoria Carter 24:21 ; 21 finishers
Masters – Ladies aged 45 to 49
25 Christine Munden 36:58 ; 25 finishers
Masters – Ladies aged 50 to 54
28 Frankie Lynch 36:14 ; 28 finishers
Masters – Ladies aged 55 to 59
16 Barbara Maddison 32:22 ; 19 finishers
Masters – Ladies aged 40 to 49
7 Victoria Carter 24:21 ; 46 finishers
Masters – Ladies (Vets) aged 50 to 59
40 Barbara Maddison 32:22 ; 46 Frankie Lynch 36:14 ; 47 finishers