Another year, another set of problems. Who would have thought that no fewer than nine of our ladies team for the Inter Area Challenge would have to pull out during the two weeks leading up to the event? With a variety of very different but very genuine reasons, the team appeared to be falling apart –four of these athletes withdrew on the Saturday immediately before the competition.
Sorry, did I say the team appeared to be falling apart? Quite the opposite, as this is the Welsh Masters. The team was strengthened by people who seemed to appear out of nowhere and by athletes offering to cover extra events. It was a case of Strength Through Adversity as team members pulled on their red vests, smiled at our cheeky new banners and cheered on their team mates. Then, slowly but surely, we accumulated a decent number of points for “Team Wales” – but first things first…
As is usually the case, the track events started with the 60m hurdles. Amanda Cook W35 (Wrexham) and Mel Garland W50 (Worcester) both ran PB’s as they jointly collected 8 points for Welsh Masters.
Next it was time for the 1500m where Claire Bruce W35 (Les Croupier) ran her fastest time for a few years. She was followed by Sarah Everitt W50 (Bristol & West) and Joan Howe W60 (Trafford) who each secured maximum points for first place in their respective races, both making their debut for the Welsh Masters team.
At 400m Juliet Sidney W35 (Newport) ran well for 3rd place against some much younger opposition, whilst at W50 we fielded 65 year old Caroline Marler – a very recent recruit to Welsh Masters. Yes, she was running out of her age group, but Caroline smashed the (65-69 years) 400m WORLD RECORD!!
Making her Welsh Masters indoor debut Ros Townsend-Hope W65 (Worcester) brought in another 4 points for the team running an SB and an indoor PB in the 400m.
Sarah Everitt and Ros Townsend-Hope were out again in the 800m races, collecting a 1st and a 3rd position respectively. Ros set another SB and an indoor PB. Following a late withdrawal Claire (I’m never doing that again) Bruce, showing great team spirit, stepped in at W35 to pick up a few more points for Welsh Masters.
Helen-Marie Davies W35 (Swansea) was a late addition to the team, but set a new PB of 11’25.71 at 3000m and shared her infectious smile with everyone. In the W50 age group, Angela Jones (Usk) powered her way to an SB and maximum points with a time of 11’39.86.
Unfortunately, we could not find any athletes to take on the 2k Race Walk, so sadly we scored zero points in that event in both the W35 and the W50 age groups.
In the Field Events we also enjoyed a great deal of success as we continued to amass points for Welsh Masters, although sadly we had nobody in the Pole Vault at either W35 or W50.
In the Shot Putt, Amanda Wale W35 (Wrexham) having been forced to withdraw from running and jumping events due to a persistent knee injury, managed 9.02m. Karen Llewellin W50 (Pembroke) achieved 8.84m, Renate Prells W60 (Swansea) 6.95m and Pat Oakes W70 6.88m. A special mention here to the Shot Putters, as three of them Amanda, Karen and Renate each made a 400 mile round trip to Lee Valley just for this one event, so they could represent Welsh Masters – a tremendous effort!
Next it was the Long Jump, where Amanda Cook W35, Mel Garland W50, Fiona Argent W60 and Pat Oakes W70 all did rather well, including two “maximums” as they leapt to an excellent 21 points for Team Wales – three of the four setting SB’s in the process.
Over in the High Jump we couldn’t field a W35 athlete, but at W50 Mel Garland sailed over 1.39m to head the UK rankings and equal her lifetime PB. Fiona Argent W60 cleared 0.94m obtaining another 4 team points.
The last of the field events was Triple Jump. Amanda Cook W35 cleared 9.37m with her longest TJ for 5 years, whilst Mel Garland W50 achieved 8.68m and together they scored 11 team points.
And so to the 4x200 relays…
The relays are always exciting and this year was no different, the first race was the W35 age group. Our Welsh Masters team was made up of Juliet Sidney, Sarah Everitt, Michelle Thomas and Angela Sonn. Juliet got us off to a flyer with a time of 30.7s and handed over to Sarah in third place. Sarah raced around in 30.5s and moved us up to second, before handing the baton to Michelle who blasted us into the lead with a lap of 28.8s. Angela was on the final leg, never having previously run an indoor relay race, but she scampered around in 31.8s to bring the team home in first place. We subsequently learned that one of the teams had been DQ’d but luckily they didn’t have dragons on their vests!
At the end of a long but fantastic day of Masters athletics, the provisional results were announced and the Welsh Masters Ladies had come third. As far as I know, this is the highest position we have ever achieved at Lee Valley and it’s down to hard work, team work and commitment by a host of enthusiastic people, so a massive CONGRATULATIONS to all involved.
Ladies (Track and Field) Team Manager
Welsh Masters Athletics