Report by: Dot Kesterton
Race Date: Sunday 12th March 2023
To run for Great Britain as a Master (over 35 years old) you choose your event/s, enter, buy the kit and turn up on the start line.
To run for England as a Master you have to run a qualifying race and reach a qualifying time. (Check England Masters Opportunities for details). I don’t quite know why the discrepancy except that the World Masters Association set out to be as inclusive as possible and welcomes all athletes from 35 plus with no upper age limit.
To qualify for the 2023 England Vs Wales Home International 10Km road race at Chester this week I had to plod off to Cockermouth two months ago and earn my place. With that achieved I was invited to race in Chester this weekend.
The next huge obstacle was to dig myself out of Bents Green, one of the highest locations in the city which, like the rest of Sheffield had had a seriously large amount of snow dumped on it two days earlier. Just before cancelling I wandered up the road to see just how bad it was and was pleasantly surprised to see lots of locals clearing a way through before a funeral car came down later in the day. Whilst commiserating with them I was also relieved that it looked as if, with a bit of community shovelling I’d be in a position to cross into Cheshire which had very little snow and join dozens of other runners for the annual Home International.
Chester 10k is one of three races offered in their calendar. A half marathon and full marathon follow later in the year. The course is undulating with the biggest climb back into the city from Mollington on the outskirts. It starts next to the racecourse and is well organised with bag drop and lots of toilet facilities alongside the start.
The weather was pretty good on that side of the country. The snow had gone and a weak sun and fresh breeze kept us shivering in our pen prior to the start. At 9.00, half an hour prior to the main Chester 10k race the England and Welsh Masters set off. I started with my usual visualisation of Percy Pud in my head, 2k to the dam wall, 5k to the Plough etc. Chester didn’t disappoint. At 8k came the last push to the Admiral Rodney, except this was up into the ancient walled city with medieval cathedral and iconic Eastgate clock. Of course I wasn’t in much of a mood to enjoy the scenery. I’d given the race my best shot and was labouring in the final stages breathing hard and struggling to maintain my pace. A great relief then to cross the finish line in 48.03mins chip as first FV70, retaining my title as England Age group champion for the 3rd time, (Kew 2021, Bristol 2022)
Colin Hardy asked me about the pressure of competing as a former age group winner. Although like anyone else there is a mix of anxiety and excitement in the run up to any event, I follow the advice of coach, John Rothwell who recommends we control all the things we can control, race preparation, kit, knowledge of the route, other competitors, nutrition, hydration, transport and even shoelaces and thus minimise the chances of negative outcomes. John also urges us to stare down the creeping doubts, the ‘I am not worthy’ thoughts and rise to the challenge, whether that is having a mantra to repeat which many athletes adopt or simply smiling, as I’ve seen Eliud Kipchoge do, though that’s often pretty hard by mile 5. On the start line adopt Caroline Brock’s ‘Race Face’ with 100% attention and focus on the job in hand. Most important I’d say is to celebrate that we can run and enjoy the whole experience, even the lung busting pain which is temporary before the euphoria at the end of the race. Thanks for the question Colin.
The race was won by Jonny Mellor in 29.20mins. First woman was Kirsty Longley in 35.32mins.
Full results can be seen here.
I found that Strider Maurice Smith also ran in the Chester 10k and have included his result below.