Ahead of her race over 10K at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships, Valerie Woodland tells MAUK about how she got into masters athletics.

I didn’t actually start running until the end of 2019. I’d been a showjumper all my life and had been looking for a new horse, when my husband jokingly offered to buy me a road bike and suggested trying a triathlon with him.

I couldn’t swim that well, I’d never ridden a road bike and my running skills dated back to secondary school, where I can’t exactly say I’d excelled.

Anyway, I joined a local triathlon and running club here in Italy, where I now live, and it all started. I realised after a short time that I wasn’t only winning in my age group, but that I was also frequently on the overall women’s podium, which was incredible.

During the winter I signed up for some cross-country and road races, and to my amazement I started doing well in them too.

Silver medal-winning British W35 team in the 5K at Grosseto 2022

In 2022 my club asked me to take part in EMAC (European Masters Athletics Championships), which was being held in Grosseto, Italy. To start with I laughed, I had no idea how fast other athletes (I still find it hard to class myself as such) would be running, so when I was told that my times were good enough not to make a total fool of myself, I agreed to take part in the 5K and 10K races.

British Masters then contacted me, and they explained that being a British citizen, I needed to join them. I never thought I’d do well, although deep down I hoped I would, as I think that we all have a competitive side, and personally when I set a goal, it gives me the drive to work hard.

I came home with a W50 bronze medal in the 10K, and a silver in the composite team W35 5K. As you can imagine I was over the moon, even more so because I’d had Covid for a month before the event and had been unable to even run 100 metres!

This will be my first World Championships, and I’m really looking forward to the experience. If anyone had ever said to me that I’d be running and competing at the age of 51, I’d have thought they were mad, but here I am, thoroughly enjoying myself.

Nothing is impossible.

Valerie’s 10K race at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships takes place on March 29th. You can follow coverage of all the action from Torun on YouTube or the event website, as well as here on MAUK.

You can read the event report from last year’s European Non-Stadia Championships here.