Sunday, 18 November 2018

Davies finishes second in age group on England debut at Chester marathon

Davies finishes second in age group on England debut at Chester marathon

A GRANDMOTHER from Goring has spoken of her pride after running for England for the first time at the age of 59.

Jane Davies completed the Chester Marathon in three hours, 22 minutes and 23 seconds, at least eight minutes faster than she had been expecting, as part of the Age Group Masters Invitation Challenge on Sunday.

She came second in the women’s 55 to 59 age group and in the top eight per cent of women overall and was part of an England team who beat their rivals from the six “Celtic nations” of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Wales, Cornwall and the Isle of Man.

Davies, an experienced runner who lives in the village with her husband Phil, had expected to slow down towards the end of the 26.2-mile race but maintained a brisk pace as she had trained to a programme for the first time.

She ran six days a week and focused primarily on speed after taking advice from GB running coach Nick Anderton, whom she met when he visited the Reading Roadrunners club, of which she is a member.

She was also motivated by the new running watch which her husband and daughter Helen, 28, bought her as a surprise the day beforehand, and by their presence at the finish line alongside her son Michael, 30, and two grandchildren.

Helen attended with her nine-month-old daughter Alexia while Michael brought his three-month-old son Zac. Both dressed their youngsters in England running vests.

Davies said: “I had a really good race – it was just brilliant and went better than I could ever have hoped. I started off a bit quick because we were waiting in a special pen just behind the elite wave and I just got swept up in it.

“I was aware that I was going fast but I kept telling myself ‘I’ll just do one more mile at this pace’ until the end. They say you’re halfway around at 20 miles because you hit a ‘wall’ mentally and physically but that didn’t happen to me.

“I was able to take advantage of that and overtake quite a few people in the last leg. All the masters had their age groups on their vests so throughout the race I could target people to run past, including a few men in the next age group up.

“The training schedule worked well for me although you need a lot of determination too. Your mind can feed you negative thoughts and you have to let them pass while tackling one mile at a time. The conditions were also beautiful – it was freezing cold when we got up but by the time of the race it was just right and the field wasn’t too crowded. You have to walk at the start of some of the bigger marathons, which is off-putting, but there was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere and the route took us through some pretty Welsh countryside and villages where the spectators were very encouraging.

“I was very pleased with my result and England won in every age group, although in fairness the Celtic runners were outnumbered because a lot of them had pulled out. It was all very friendly competition.

“There was a hill in the final mile but I quite like hill running and I knew I had to make the effort because I couldn’t allow it to affect my time at the last minute. I just dug in and kept going, knowing that my family were waiting for me.”

Davies, a retired languages teacher at Pangbourne College, has been running as a hobby since 1984 and has lived in Goring for 12 years.

She was invited to compete for England after finishing this year’s Brighton Marathon in three hours and 41 minutes and had expected to beat that time by 10 minutes at best.

Instead, she finished just eight seconds short of the personal record she set at the London Marathon in 2013, two years before she put her running on hold due to osteoporosis of the spine.

When the condition was at its worst she feared she would never run again but it cleared up following treatment at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford and she started running again in 2016.

She trained for Chester by running along the River Thames, sometimes accompanied by her husband, and would regularly jump in to cool down during this summer’s heatwave.

She said: “Crossing the finish line was just incredible. Everyone was so pleased because they knew how much this meant to me – in fact, the children promised to come as soon as I qualified and it meant so much to have everyone there.

“Phil phoned my parents straight after I completed it and they were so excited that I had to call them back a little while later.

“They said they didn’t understand where I got my ability from as neither of them has ever run, but they have always been strong, determined role models and that has always inspired me.

“I was fine afterwards and was even able to go for a little run around the city walls afterwards, which was nice as I didn’t get to do much sight-seeing beforehand.”

Davies’s result at Brighton earned her a place in next year’s London Marathon, which will be her tenth in 30 years. She also hopes to enter next year’s Lord Mayor’s 5km race in Norwich, in which entrants must complete the first half within 10 minutes.

She will have a brief period of rest before taking a holiday at some point before Christmas then resuming her training.

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