Britain’s leading age-group athletes achieved an impressive medal count in the European Masters Championships, held in hot conditions in Monte Gordo, Portugal last weekend. GB Masters were fourth on the medals table (46) behind Spain (86), Germany (65) and Portugal (64). The British haul included 20 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze medals.
The event returned to the Algarve for the first time since 2005 and more than 1,000 men and women aged 35 to 90 plus years competed in a three-day festival that featured a 10k, half marathon and cross country relay as well as race-walking.
The 10k was held on Friday evening (20 May) in 30C, with a slight coastal breeze between Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo Antonio. With the torrid conditions favouring Iberian nations, the only GB winners were W45 Louise Insley (39:08); the W50 team of Clare Elms (40:28), Lisa Webb (43:26) and Jill Burke (43:32); the W65 team comprising Angela Copson (45:47), Ros Tabor (45:52) and Sue James (54:28) and the W70 team with Pauline Rich (56:04), June Johnson (57:55) and Patricia Cummins (65:55).
The woodland shade revived the British squads for the cross country relay the following morning through a pine forest and over sand mounds. This was purely a team event and GB weighed in with gold for W50s Jill Burke, Sharyn Ramage and Clare Elms; W65s Angela Copson, Janette Stevenson and Ros Tabor and M55s Alex Rowe, David Coles and David Norman.
Sunday morning was cloudy but still humid for the half marathon that included a lap of the athletics stadium in a predominantly linear, two-lap route. The British highlights were individual silvers for M45 Kerry-Liam Wilson (1:10:41), W50 Clare Elms (1:27:35) and M65 Andrew McLinden (1:26:44). Team silver was claimed by McLinden, Des Michael and Alan Appleby at M65; Geoff Newton, Martin Ford and Tony Brackstone at M70 and Ros Tabor, Alison White and June Johnson at W60 (pictured).
There were many memories from these friendly, yet competitive championships but among the stand-out moments for this correspondent was the unconfined joy of brothers Jason and Lee Barlow (Wesham Road Runners) after winning their first championship team medals (M40 bronze) in the half marathon and the spontaneous singing and dancing of the small but vociferous Ukraine team after any success – obviously still basking in Eurovision Song Contest glory.
Full results at the event website