Race report from Steve Herington on his recent run in the World Masters Athletics Champs in Malaga, Congratulations Steve!

World Masters Athletics Champs Malaga September 2018

These Champs are primarily track and field, drawing, in all, I believe, some 8,000 athletes from across the globe.

Not having the speed for the track, I targeted, from the beginning of the year, the cross country event, hoping to make a mark in the M70 category.
Normally, the courses are flat and furious, but my hopes soared when I found that the Malaga (actually Torremolinos) circuit was round a hilly pine wood over rough ground which I thought might take some of the sting out of the speedsters’ legs.

We started at 9.0 am, so it was not too hot. However the wind was blowing and we set off in a cloud of dust.

The M70’s were about 60 strong including 7 of us in GB colours. It was 3 to score for the team so I had to beat 4 compatriots to count. 3 years ago in Lyon I had been 4th scorer when the team took silver. I didn’t want to repeat that experience but was a bit apprehensive, given that most of the GB 70’s this time were track guys and a good bit quicker than me.

The course was 3 laps of 2k, with, I was relieved to note, no long run-in where the quicks’ could unfurl their sprinters’ legs.

I decided on a ‘do or die’ strategy and went tearing off at the start up a long drag, high in the top 10. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to maintain it but was relieved to be holding my position after lap 1, with no Brits ahead of me. On the following lap, I even improved to 5th and felt full of running, the scent of pine needles doing wonders for my breathing.

Lap 3 was hard but I held things together despite losing a couple of places, one to a French guy who ended up beating me by one second. Running a bit scared I powered down the last hill and hung on to take 7th spot and first Brit, though only 9 seconds ahead of the second counter. In fact the team packed well, with 7th, 9th and 10th and an unlucky 11th.

Unfortunately we weren’t quite good enough for gold, losing out to the hosts, Spain, who had 2nd, behind the Finnish winer, 5th and 12th. But we were thrilled with silver ahead of Australia and the rest.

As I suggested, the course was perfect for me after long years of conditioning on Mike Blenkinsop’s Herefordshire courses and the honing of my limited capacity for speed thanks to working over the last year in Niki and Lisa’s fantastic group on the track.