Ireland take England’s scalps in premier masters cross-country event on Saturday in Dublin
On a good weekend for English cricket and poor for English rugby, English masters cross-country had a disappointing outing of their own in Ireland as for the first time since the event was run in 1988 they did not win the men’s overall, the women’s overall or the combined overall as a strong Ireland team made the most of home advantage to win all the three trophies, although it was only a single point that decided the overall men’s categories.
It was England’s first overall defeat at the 33rd time of asking in any of those sections although they did gain a few team wins and individual victories.
Rugby may have something to do with the defeat as the weekend saw a clash with a Ireland rugby match in Dublin and an increase in hotel prices meant many English (and Scottish and Welsh runners) decided against an outlay of well over £500 for the honour of representing their country.
However, additionally the best English younger vets have not put themselves forward recently for an event that used to be the prized masters race with English vests also much easily available on the road in UK mainland races at less cost to the individual and the English team picked for the first time by a trial like the other nations resulted in a weaker team in many age groups with one age group (the W55s) just having a single finisher.
Individually in Ireland, the best performance came from M65 winner Alastair Walker of Scotland with a two- minute victory while W75 Angela Copson gained a record 13th win (albeit against skeleton opposition) while others to add to their growing list of wins over numerous age groups were W60 Fiona Matheson and W55 Clare Elms.
The event was last held in Aintree in 2019 after the pandemic caused cancellations in 2020 and 2021 and each of the five nations take it in turn to host the event and there are five-year age groups from M35 and W35 up to M75 and W75.
There is not full gender or age equality and it is six to run and four to score in the four youngest male age groups and four to run and three to score in the older men and all the women’s events.
The course beside the famous Santry track is quite flat but testing because of the speed on the slopes and the grass was excellent considering recent rain and the event was well organised by the Irish Masters team led by Mike Fennell. The course was rather bland for the runners but excellent for spectators with a minimum of four laps of 1500m but two extra laps of 1000m for the younger men, making it six in total for 8km.
Next year’s race will be in Glasgow.
As expected Irish Trials winner Sinead O’Connor dominated the main women’s race and led Ireland to W35 team success – their 11th at this age group – from Scotland and Wales with England unusually fifth and last.
O’Connor had won the Irish senior 10km title back in April as she made a successful debut in the event.
On the Santry course, her Irish team-mate Fiona Santry (20:39) was second and Scotland’s former senior marathon Jennifer Wetton (20:46) won bronze.
TEAM: 1 IRL 7: 2 SCO 22; 3 WAL 26; 4 NIR 35; 5 ENG 40
Finishing third overall with a strong last lap Scotland’s Sara Green was a clear winner in 20:42.
She had been 17th and first master in the recent Scottish Short Course Championships but had only been 12th woman (and sixth W35) in 2019 and 17th woman (and 10th W35) in 2018 as she improves with age.
Juliet Potter (21:05) had a strong second half and led England to a narrow team by a single point win while Ireland’s Dympna Ryan (21:18) won bronze.
This was England’s 11th successive team win in this age group.
TEAM: 1 ENG 13; 2 IRL 14; 3 SCO 24; 4 NIR 33; 5 WAL 50
Up among the overall leading group for much of the race Irish trials winner Natasha Adams (21:14) finished seventh woman and won her age group from team-mate Claire McCarthy (21:25) as Ireland won easily.
Scotland’s Carol Parsons (21:26) took bronze.
Defending champion and eight times a winner in her age group Claire Martin finished fifth (21:50) just behind English Trials winner Christine Lathwell (21:47) as England finished second.
TEAM: 1 IRL 9; 2 ENG 16; 3 SCO 21; 4 NIR 42; 5 WAL 53
Ireland also won individual and team gold in this section. Despite limping prior to the race when warming up, once it started the 2005 W35 winner, which was also in Dublin, Annette Kealy looked fine during the race and she dominated to retain her title in 21:52.
Northern Ireland’s Elisoa Crawford (22:02) finished strongly for second while Breda Gaffney (22:16) in third aided Ireland’s easy team win.
TEAM: 1 IRL 10; 2 ENG 22; 3 SCO 29; 4 NIR 31
England’s Clare Elms gained her fifth title in her fifties as she defended her 2019 Aintree win in style.
Cautious after not feeling at her best in previous races, she trailed Northern Ireland’s Deborah Rushman by 10 seconds after the opening 1500m lap but she picked the pace up on the second lap to catch Rushman and then pushed on to win by 50 seconds in 22:35.
Scotland’s Ana Richardson came through strongly to snatch silver in 23:25 and her team won on countback with it all going on their third scorer as England had to rely on W60 reserve Heather Robinson as their third scorer as Rushman (23:28) held on for bronze.
TEAM: 1 SCO 17; 2 ENG 17; 3 IRL 20; 4 NIR 35
In the best clash of the day, multiple world record breaker Fiona Matheson of Scotland (23:04) won her eighth title as she fought off the challenge of another all-time great Niamh O’Sullivan (23:05) of Ireland who has previously won the overall women’s race by a single second. Had O’Sullivan won they would have had seven titles each.
The Scot started quick heading W55 winner Elms initially but O’Sullivan looked the stronger in the closing stages but just failed to get past her rival.
That pair actually finished ahead of two of the W55 medallists while a distant third was former W50 champion Monica Williamson (24:01), led England to only their second women’s team victory on the day.
It was remarkably their 17th win in the 19 times this event has been contested.
TEAM: 1 ENG 13; 2 SCO 19; 3 IRL 32; 4 NIR 34; 5 WAL 36
Ireland’s Pauline Moran, who had won W60 gold in 2018 and 2019, started fast in the separate 65-plus race but looked to be losing ground on the third lap before moving away again on the fourth and she won by just under half a minute in 25:15.
Jane Kidd was a clear second (25:42) and led Scotland to a team win and she was ably backed up by Isobel Burnett (26:16) in third though Ireland were only two points back in second.
Sue Haslam missed a medal by just four seconds in fourth (26:20) and they finished third despite a three-minute gap to her team-mates.
TEAM: 1 SCO 11; 2 IRL 13; 3 ENG 26; 4 WAL 36
W70 (and W75 individual):
Ireland again dominated in a surprisingly competitive age group. Eileen Kenny (27:00) led home her team-mate Margaret Glavey (27:18) with Scotland’s Jeanette Craig (27:23) a close third.
Mary Lynch (27:35) gave Ireland three in four and less than 150 metres down on the winner the 2018 W65 winner and former Hong Kong Olympian Yuko Gordon finished fifth (27:44).
The other two English W70 scorers were W75 competitors and Angela Copson (29:26) and Pauline Rich (34:44) and they finished third.
An agreed change overnight allowed the W75 competitors to still score in the W70 team but be eligible for W75 individual honours (where there was no team).
Copson, despite just a handful of opposition, thus remarkably won gold for a record 13th consecutive time as she moved clear of Mike Hagar as the most successful ever athlete in this event and she would have even scored for the W65 team.
She first won gold in the W60 category in 2008.
There was one potential hiccup when a confused Scottish W75 did a lap short and came in just before Copson through the finish funnel but she was later disqualified.
TEAM: 1 SCO 11; 2 IRL 13; 3 ENG 26; 4 WAL 36
Overall women: 1 IRL 34; 2 ENG 30; 3 SCO 30; 4 NIR 12; 8 WAL 8
Steven McAlary, only second in the Northern Ireland trial, was ultimately a decisively winner of the overall men’s race as they won individual gold in the age group for the third successive year.
He bided his time early on and worked his way up to the leading group with BMAF champion Ed Chuck leading most of the way.
On the last lap McAlary (25:56) accelerated away and he won the overall race by nine seconds and the M35 title by 17 seconds from his Trials conqueror John Craig (26:13) as the pair led Northern Ireland to a narrow team win over Ireland.
However, while he was 35 at the time of the Trials, he had turned 40 last month and was eligible for the older age group but decided to take the risk of competing in the younger age group to strengthen Northern Ireland’s chances.
His one previous appearance in the race in Derry in 2017 would not have identified him as a potential winner. He was 34th and 17th M35, two minutes down on the winner.
Chuck who was clipped on the last lap and then suffered a cramp, took bronze in 26:20 to be the only English individual medalist in the final race and he led England to bronze.
TEAM: 1 NIR 23; 2 IRL 25; 3 ENG 37; 4 SCO 68; 5 WAL 76
Scotland’s Mark Doherty was in the leading overall group throughout and enjoyed a comfortable victory in 26:08 (even if he did trail an M40 who was moving down an age group) but Ireland with four in seven won the team race easily and provided the other medallists in Paul Monahan (26:22) and Niall Shanahan (27:00).
England led by trials winner Rob Warner in eighth (27:32) took bronze well behind a strong Scottish team.
TEAM: 1 IRL 16; 2 SCO 30; 3 ENG 55; 4 WAL 64; 5 NIR 67
Despite giving 10 years to many of his opponents, Brian Maher, who won the overall race in 2017 two minutes up on McAlary, again excelled to finish second overall and win the M45 title in 26:05 to win his section by around 300 metres.
Maher has a 10,000m PB well inside the half hour as Ireland again dominated as they clean swept the medals and won the team event with ease.
The 2017 third-placer Declan Reed (26:54) and Ciaran McGonagle (27:02) finished well clear of the best of the rest led by Northern Ireland’s Brian McElveanna (27:28), who ran 2:27 at the Berlin Marathon and England’s Jan Bailey (27:30).
England, with four in ten, were a clear second but it was only the fifth time in 33 runnings that they have failed to win gold.
TEAM: 1 IRL 15; 2 ENG 30; 3 NIR 50; 4 SCO 72; 5 WAL 75
With seven previous victories, England’s Tim Hartley is one of the most successful men in history at the eventChampionships and he appeared to be in control in the M50 plus race as he accelerated on the penultimate lap but Ireland’s Shane O’Neill eventually covered the move and then moved away himself on the last lap to win in 27:14.
Hartley, who moves into the M55 category next year took silver (27:22) and had the consolation of leading England to a clear team win (their 28th out of 33 championships) and he was followed home by his compatriots Simon Baines (27:30), Ben Paviour (27:36) and Tony O’Brien (27:51) as they had four of the top five.
Ireland were a very clear second.
TEAM: 1 ENG 14; 2 IRL 26; 3 SCO 59; 4 NIR 69
Pauric McKinney, who won the M50 title the last time the race was held in Dublin in 2015, finished strongly on the final lap to win in 28:31 as he finished 10th overall in the combined M50-M60 race.
However his Irish team came off second best in the team as England won comfortably as he was followed home by Jon James (28:36), defending champion Andrew Leach (28:43) who challenged him initially and another multiple BMAF champion Ben Reynolds (29:19) who all packed in the top four.
TEAM: 1 ENG 9; 2 IRL 14; 3 SCO 30; 4 NIR 39; 5 WAL 49
Three years ago Steve Watmough was out of the medals in the M55s but now in a new age group he dominated throughout and took gold by almost half a minute in 29:40 which was comfortably inside six-minute miling.
Watmough, who runs the Valencia Marathon next month, had been eyeing the British M60 record but has recently seen the record fall from 2:45:14 to 2:41:16 in September and then 2:39:16 in October.
John Convery in second (30:09) ensured another easy team win for England with Mark Cursons (30:59) completing the scoring in fourth.
Ireland with Kevin Griffin (30:48) third and former champion Tommy Payne (31:08) in fifth were a clear second.
TEAM: 1 ENG 7; 2 IRL 17; 3 NIR 34; 4 SCO 34
Alastair Walker, one of the nominees for the AW Readers’ Choice Awards, underlined his credentials with one of the greatest performances at any event since the championships debuted in 1988.
In the separate M65 plus race he was 10 seconds clear after 400m and went further and further away. By the end of the four laps of 1500m he had extended his winning margin to an astonishing two minutes. It was Scotland’s first ever win in the age group and next week Walker is targeting a world best at 10 miles to add to his growing list of accomplishments which have seen a number of world records on track and road.
He had won the M60 category in the two previous editions in 2018 and 2019.
Some 600 metres back there was a great and highly competitive battle for second. At one stage it looked as if Jonathan Haynes would win the battle but with great support many time world masters track medalist Joe Gough underlined his track speed to take second in 22:46 ahead of Haynes (22:49).
That sprint also effectively also decided the team race as Ireland beat England by a single point.
TEAM: 1 IRL 15; 2 ENG 16; 3 SCO 25; 4 WAL 40; 5 NIR 44
Scotland’s Tony Martin, who like W55 Elms and W70 Kenny won Euro masters road gold in Italy in May, dominated the race throughout and ended up winning gold in 23:11, over a minute and a half up on his team-mates Andrew McLinden (24:47) and Alex Sutherland (24:58) who ensured a clean sweep and minimum score of six points.
Their Ed Norton in fourth (25:00) failed to score despite beating all the opposition runners.
Northern Ireland took second as defending champion Terry Eakin finished eighth (26:01) as a below-par England were the last of the four teams to complete a team who finished the necessary scorers. They had won the 10 previous titles and 17 of the past 18 Championships.
TEAM: 1 SCO 6; 2 NIR 25; 3 IRL 29; 4 ENG 36
The professional guitarist Peter Giles, who only took up running at the age of 44, won his third title as he remarkably retained his title at the age of 78 and actually beat all the English M70 participants.
For most of the race he followed Northern Ireland’s Gerry Lynch but making use of his better track speed, he pushed clear on the last lap, jumping on to a road section beside the course to get some momentum to win in 26:21 to his rival’s 26:26.
Giles also won team gold as his effort was backed up by Mick Casey (26:51) in third as Ireland and Scotland took the other team medals.
Last in the M75 race was Dic Evans of Wales, who ran in the first international in 1988 and won the M45 race in 1991.
TEAM: 1 ENG 10; 2 SCO 22; 3 IRL 29; 4 NIR 37; 5 WAL 40
Overall men: 1 IRL 37; 2 ENG 36; 3 SCO 29; 4 NIR 23; 8 WAL 8
Overall (men & women): 1 IRL 71; 2 ENG 66; 3 SCO 59; 4 NIR 35; 5 WAL 16
Jane Potter (22:20), watching her sister Juliet, won the open race by half a minute from England W40 reserve Catherine Charlton (22:50).
Northern Ireland M35 Ricky Johnston won the men’s 8km in 28:26 with English M55 Andrew Taplin (29:53) third overall.
Ireland’s Will Tyrrell won the M65 plus race in 24:22 with BMAF officer M70 Peter Kennedy third in 27:09.
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