Sat/Sun 7/8 March 2020, Enfield, London Five Preston Harrier athletes took the long journey down to Enfield, London, to compete in these championships held at Lee Valley Athletics Centre – Sharon Wilkinson, Carol Holt, Alan Appleby, Steve Hallas and Steve Smith. Unfortunately Alan was unable to compete in his event, the M70 3000m, due to an injury the week before the competition but provided support and encouragement to his colleagues.
Saturday was the first day of their competition with Carol Holt in the W40 60m at 1.10pm. This was a straight final with four athletes in the race. Carol ran a good fast race setting a pb of 8.86sec and gaining the bronze medal for her performance. Next up was Sharon Wilkinson in the W45 400m at 3.50pm. This was her main event and she was feeling very apprehensive and nervous running against fellow athletes who had been posting similar times. In the event Sharon led from the start, holding off the rest of the field and taking first place in 60.6 sec, a season’s best and gold medal.
Carol was following Sharon in the W40 400m at 4.10pm. This was her second ever 400m and she ran a determined race, giving her all from start to finish, resulting in a pb by 3seconds with a time of 69.62secs and a bronze medal. Finishing Saturday’s racing was Steve Smith in the M60 1500m at 5.10pm. Leading from the first lap he stretched the field out until by the bell just one athlete was with him and on his shoulder; however on the back straight Steve kicked and opened a decisive gap to win with a season’s best time of 4.47.30 and a gold medal.
The first day had been a huge success; could they replicate that on day two? It was an early start on the Sunday with Sharon’s first race W45 200m heats at 10.05am. She paced the race well knowing a second place would see her through to the final. A time of 27.92sec left a little in the tank for later. Carol’s last race of the competition was her favourite event the W40 200m. She made her first false start caused by the lady in lane 6 coming up too slowly on the ‘set’ and the starter gave her a warning; in Masters’ events a false start still gets a warning but you are allowed to continue. This caused Carol a slow ‘off the blocks’ and she was at the rear of the field until about 150m when she unleashed the inner tiger and pulled back to second place with a time of 29.25sec and a silver medal. This was her first major competition, three events three medals what a start!
Sharon was back on the track at 12.15pm in the W45 200m final. It was a very close fought race and it looked as though Sharon was in front until the last few strides but she came second in 27.35sec for the silver medal. Another great performance, two events two medals. Last on the track was Steve Hallas in the M45 3000m at 1.40pm. The fifteen lap race was run with two other age categories so Steve had to be aware of his rivals. Steve ran a steady race with a group of four others keeping a good pace but as the race progressed his ‘pack’ split up with Steve pulling back places in the latter stages and finishing strongly. He seemed convinced he was fourth but when the results came out we had another medallist, he was third for bronze and had run his fastest time for four years, 10.12.17.
It is a shame that the European Masters Indoors Championships have had to be posponed until next January because of the Coronavirus as the athletes are in such good shape for the event but with over 3000 competitors from 50 countries indoors and many elderly (but fit) it is understandable. In the British Masters there were 652 competitors and 137 events.