Three senior Spartan members are celebrating after running for England in the England Athletics Masters’ Series.
Bob Hurst and Sue Le Ruez donned England vests for the MBNA Chester 10km on 12 March and Lara James, the first Club member to qualify, did so in the Chester Marathon last October.
Bob finished in a fantastic time of 49min 24sec and placed second in the men’s 75-79 age group and Sue finished in 50min 16sec and placed eighth in the women’s 65-69 age group. Both improved on their times in the qualifying races.
After having her qualification race delayed twice because of Covid, Lara finally won the vest in the Milton Keynes Marathon in 2021, finishing in 3hr 26min. She improved massively on that time in her championship race in Chester last October, finishing in 3.20.58 and placing ninth in the 40-44 age category.
All three had to qualify for the privilege of representing England by meeting a set time standard in their respective age category and finish in the top three in that category in one of four designated races.
I qualified for the Masters taking part in the Mornington Chasers Regents Park on 8 January, with a time of 52:08. The qualifying standard for my age group was 57 mins. The confusing thing was that there was no 75+ age group just 70+, but I knew straight away that I was in the top three regardless. Also the race was organised by Krono Sports on behalf of Mornington Chasers and I had to register on the Krono Sports website as well as the England Masters qualifying website. I then had to wait almost four weeks before I knew that I had qualified for the England Masters representative race in Chester. So the qualifying experience was somewhat frustrating but worth it in the “long run”.
I was introduced to the possibility of qualifying for the England Masters by Lara James who had been selected for the England masters marathon for her age group the previous year. Lara had noticed my 10km times here in Jersey and thought I should be able to qualify with minutes to spare. I heeded her advice and rejoined Jersey Spartan after a gap of about 25 years. I thereby obtained a URN (England Athletics Affiliation or Registration number) which is necessary to compete in the England Masters qualifiers.
To run for England masters for my age group was a really exciting prospect and the atmosphere in Chester for the representative race was awe inspiring. I met another England masters runner from Jersey Spartan, Sue Le Ruez, and between us we had the honour of representing England against Wales and between us did England Masters and Jersey Spartan proud, following in the footsteps of Lara.
I am so pleased to have had the opportunity and the experience and would recommend it to any fellow runners. As a result of my experience I have joined RunBritain and it appears that I have the 7th fastest time for 10km in my age group in GB this year. What a journey so far!
Sue Le Ruez
I was motivated to enter the EA Masters’ Series 10km qualification race in Wrexham last July after Lara told me she had qualified for the marathon. She spurred me on! I was happy to finish in 51:29, and place first in my age category. There was a bit of a wait before confirmation came through that I had qualified, but it was a great feeling when I got the news.
There followed a series of niggling injuries which stopped me running for three months. I have Lara to thank again for recommending physiotherapist Kyle Dougherty of The Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic, who got me back on track and to the start line in Chester. After all that time off, I was very pleased with the result – over a minute quicker than in Wrexham.
I’ve been a Spartan member for 40 years and competed in races throughout that time – road, cross-country, marathons, inter-insulars and Island Games – and you’d think I’d be getting used to the nerves by now. But I think I was more nervous for this one than any other!
‘That is not to say it was not worth it. The England Athletics team were very welcoming and supportive and looked after us well. There was an added bonus of meeting fellow Jersey Spartan Bob at the start.
It was a great experience which I would recommend. I’m sure there are lots of other Cub members who could qualify if they chose to.
I first heard about the England Masters opportunity back in 2019 by a running coach based in England called Carl Ryde, who I was introduced to not long after I moved to Jersey. He suggested I had potential to qualify for the V40-44 team. At the time I thought the qualification times were way beyond what I could achieve but I was committed and excited to try. I discussed the plans with my Spartans coach, Chris Dorey, and we set about working on it. I’d run many marathons previously but always as a ‘fun’ runner. For this I needed to get under 3hours 30mins and not only that, I needed to be in the top three runners achieving under 3hours 30mins who had put their names forward to try to qualify.
I entered one of the qualification races back in 2020 – the Milton Keynes Marathon, which of course was postponed multiple times due to Covid. I finally ran it in June 2021 and ran 3hrs 26mins. I was number 2 in my age group and got a place on the team! Once you have qualified (there are a few races scattered over the country to qualify in) you then have the opportunity to run in a prestigious England vest at your representative race. It is non-transferrable, so if you don’t run in that race it doesn’t roll over, you must re-qualify. My representative race, in Chester, was not until October 2022 due to covid again… so I needed to stay injury free and ready to race! It was an incredible atmosphere and the England team really look after you with a separate hospitality area and they walked us all to the front of the race to start. I ran it in 3hrs 20mins and have since gone on to improve on that time further. The England Masters is a great initiative for runners over 35 to remain competitive in their age group and go on to achieve great things. It was an honour to represent England and to see other Jersey runners do the same! I was so excited to see the brilliant results of Sue Le Ruez and Bob Hurst at the recent Chester 10km – inspiring!
For more details about the England Athletics Masters’ programme: https://www.englandathletics.org/athletics-and-running/england-competitions/age-group-masters-competition/