The letters confirming their selection; or unfortunately unsuccessful this time, have popped into In-Boxes and the runners are now on their way to the annual British & Irish International Masters Cross-Country in Swansea on Saturday, with the first race, the women and M65-plus, setting out at 11.30 over a 6km course. Race Director, Mel James, has been working hard and largely unaided on this for over a year and has now got the final touches in place.
Teams in 5-year Age Categories from the Home Nations and the Republic of Ireland compete, and it is the only race where teams are actually selected.
England have been successful in winning the Overall Trophy for years but Ireland have come perilously close and no doubt will have strong teams in Swansea. Wales have not published their teams but do be assured the proud red vests will be there in force.
In England’s Women’s team are, Lara Bromilow, EMAC who had a good outing only last week in the Chiltern League 5.65m Cross-County, that also incorporated the British Athletics Cross-Challenge RAF v Oxford University is included in England’s W35 team. Elizabeth Renondeau travels down from the North having run for Royal Vale in both the BMAF Cross-Country relays and the Women’s National 4-stage this season. Joining them are Rebecca Luxton EMAC and VAC’s Jessica Franklin. The strong W40 team include former winner, Clare Martin MMAC, in top form Lisa Palmer-Blount, and the two Northern runners Sarah Murphy and Kirsty Longley.
W45 Julie Dixon SWVAC was 5th in the Cornwall Country C/C on 11th, Kate Rennie SCVAC got 4th in the recent Inter-Area Challenge in Bury St Edmunds, but it is likely to be MMAC’s Michelle Clarke who will lead them home after her brilliant run in this race last and on her current form. Jacqueline Rockcliffe SWVAC completes the team. With Kathryn Bailey SWVAC, Clare Elms VAC , Susan McDonald VAC who was 23rd in the Malaga C/C and 12th at the Inter-Area Challenge, and Fee Maycock, they comprise a formidable W50 team.
Travelling down from Alnwick is W55 Carole Page NEMAA as the Selectors put their faith in her 5km run in the BMAF Race in Horwich, 29th overall in the 10k and a 124th overall placing at Bury St Edmunds. Monica Williams MMAC, Ange Norris VAC and Monica Williamson MMAC complete the team.
England’s W60 team comprise Diane Baldwin, EMAC, Sue Haslam and Caroline Wheelhouse from the Northern Masters and Lynda Hembury VAC. Penny Forse SCVAC should head up the W65 team and with Yuko Gordon EMAC running so well at the moment, Ros Tabor VAC has been a scoring team member on numerous previous occasions and Dorothy Kerston NMAC, joins this very strong W60 team.
Angela Copson is on course to make it her 13th successful individual win and likely to show a clean pair of heels to some younger opponents. Dot Fellows MMAC has been good enough to get into an Age Group team for years and will feature prominently in this W70 squad, completed by Anne Dockery EMAC and Susan Garnier SCVAC.
Their opponents on the Scottish W35 team include Michelle Sandison, who was placed 9th in the Scottish National Short Course Championships, Romy Beard and Sara Green, runner-up in the Scottish Trials. W40 Jacqueline Etherington had a busy and very satisfying series of races in Malaga and, apart from the BMAF Cross-Country Relays, she has been relatively quite since but is likely to feature prominently in Swansea. With Carole Parsons winning the Trials over 6km, Louise Ross and Jennifer MacLean, team medals look well within their grasp. Megan Wright was 9th in the BMAF Championships up in Forres last March and with Arlene Lewis, Allie Chung and Karen Kennedy, 2nd in the National Short Course Championships, they are in with a shout in the W45 race. Susan Ridley W50 and W55 Fiona Matheson will again be hunting individual titles.
In the N. Ireland Trials, W40 Catherine Diver, W35 Gemma McDonald and Amy Bulman all finished within seconds of each other in their Trials. Last year they put on a great show and are fielding full teams in all Age Categories on Saturday.
The England Selectors were deluged with applicants this year and burned the midnight oil trying to come to a decision, disappointment for so many runners but a reflection on the healthy state of affairs.
Into the M35 team come Paul Coon from the Northern Masters ; the North East’s trio of Conrad Franks, Kevin Jeffress, Michael Joyeux and two from the EMAC Phil Martin and Robert Warner. Franks won the BMAF track 10k in September and was 2nd in a half marathon in September. Phil Martin finished 27th in the Inter-Area C/C Challenge in Bury St Edmunds and took the BMAF marathon, clearly plenty of stamina.
Their M40 team also have a 50% Northern representation with Mike Burrett, Nick Jones, Will Smith and Alastair Watson, Paul Featherstone MMAC and Paul Burdon SWVAC complete the team.
Former International distance runner, Nick Jones was 2nd in the M40 BMAF 5km, won the 10k and finished 15th M40 at the World Masters C/C in Malaga as well as proving his metal in events from 800-10k. Paul Burden took the BMAF 5k track title and finished 6th in this race in N. Ireland last year – a formidable team. Equally as strong is the M45 team formed of John Baines and Christopher Greenwood from the VAC, John Clifford NEMA, Andrew Grant NMAC, James Skinner from the SCVAC and Justin Thomas SWVAC.
Tim Hartley is again in the team having won this event some years ago, Andrew Leach, Philip Leybourne, Julian Richardson, Mark Symes and Paul Thompson, make up the M50 team. A fast race would suit Andrew Leach with his track form and 8th in Bury St Edmunds. There are plenty of stamina runners in this team.
It is 4 to a team in the M55-plus teams. South West man Guy Woods has had a busy racing calendar this year, from Malaga to the World Mountain Running Championships, BMAF 5km and 33rd in the Cross-Country in Scotland. Bingley Harrier John Convery can be relied on and the quartet is completed by Stephen Watmough, NMAC and Scott Scott-Bannister SCVAC. M60 team brings together Kevin Newman NMAC, Michael Bridgeland EMAC, Paul Merrison NEMAA and Austin Soane SCVAC.
Such is the calibre of the current M65 group that John Shapland is a travelling reserve. Nigel Gates can claim the outright winner of this race as an M40 and M45 and Stan Owen was always a sure bet. David Butler EMAC and Paul Whelpton SCVAC are also in. In the M70 team is Mick Casey, Ben Grant, Steve Herington and Richard Piotrowski. Donning their England vest for the M75 chase is Phil Brenna, Kenneth Chapman, Ray Elston and the ubiquitos David Beattie.
With the most difficult journey, Scotland has full teams in the M35/40/45.They are likely to return North of the Border with team medals, and possibly an individual medal is these strongly contested Groups. They have also got complete and experienced teams in the M55/60/70 teams who will add to the coffers.
Mark McKinstry won the N. Ireland M35 Trial and they are fielding Steve Cairns in their M50 team. He was 8th in the BMAF C/C in Forres. A stalwart of their team for years is evergreen Terry Eakin, he has run over the Swansea course before and is likely to lead their M65 team home.