The 2018 MBNA Chester Marathon played host to the second ever England Athletics Age Group Team, as masters runners from a wide variety of clubs across the country grasped the opportunity to represent their country with distinction.
The Age Group Team once again took on a Celtic Nations line up in a challenge match, with England team members having qualified thanks to their performances at qualifying races over the past year.
Conditions on the day were perfect for marathon running: a bit chilly for standing around, but great once the starting gun was fired and the England team took full advantage, with age and outright personal bests aplenty.
The best age graded performance of the day came in the F60 age group, with Linda Hembury (Tring RC) clocking a superb 3:18:01, an incredible 91.5% WAVA score, while F50 Fee Maycock (Cheltenham) was the next highest age graded female finisher, her 2:56:56 her fourth sub 2:57 time in 18 months. M45 Steve Bateson (East Hull) ran 2:29:08 to produce the highest male age graded performance at 88.2%, while M60 Brian Martin (Quakers) and M50 Nicholas Malpeli (North Herts, Karen Dodsworth) pushed him close, with 2:58:02 (86.1%) and 2:43:22 (85.5%) respectively.
The first England finisher in the race was M35 Karl Welborn (Tipton Harriers), whose time of 2:28:48 placed him third in the race overall and first in his age group by eight seconds following a close fought battle for much of the final 10k with teammate Peter Tucker (Blackheath and Bromley, Mark Pollard). First female finisher from the team was F35 Laura Trimble (Wimbledon Windmilers), who clocked 2:47:33 to move into the overall UK top 20 in 2018, while W40 Charlie Metcalfe (Ryde, Geoff Watkin) and W45 Emma Prideaux (Billericay, Christian Dailly) were the next to finish with 2:53:29 and 2:56:12.
While the day was, of course, about strong performances, it was as much about pride: Pride in representing England, pride in performing in an England vest in front of friends and family, and pride in completing a gruelling 26.2 miles.
England won the challenge in convincing fashion by 58 points to 23, with English runners winning in each of the age categories, male and female, from ages 35-39 all the way through to 70+.