British & Irish Masters International XC Dublin
By Beverley Jackson
In early October, I was delighted to receive a letter informing me that I had been selected to represent England in the British and Irish Masters International in Dublin on Saturday 14th November.
We decided to travel a day early so that we could celebrate Mikes birthday in Dublin on the 12th with a real Guinness (Mike, not me!). This meant that we had to book in at a different Hotel for the night of the 12th, as the Crowne Plaza where we would be staying staying with the England team was full on the night of the 12th.
We travelled to Leeds/Bradford airport on Thur 12th to get the 17:50 flight to Dublin and were just having a coffee when I glanced up and noticed that the word “cancelled” had suddenly appeared against our flight on the screen. We went to the enquiry desk and were informed that the flight had been cancelled due to adverse weather and that the airline was going to take the first 48 people that had booked in to Manchester airport by coach to catch the 21:00 flight to Dublin. The others would have to re-book for the next day. We quickly bought some food, as we didn’t know when we would next be able to get any, so Mike celebrated his birthday with a toasted sandwich and a blueberry muffin – the Guinness was on hold. We arrived at the airport one hour before the flight was due following a horrible journey through high winds and pouring rain, to be informed that this flight was also delayed due to adverse weather. We eventually got to Dublin at 1.00 in the morning after a very turbulent flight and got to the hotel 15 minutes later. So much for the relaxed evening we had planned!
Before we knew it, it was the morning and after a quick breakfast we were back on the move again to the Crowne Plaza.
We booked in and enjoyed a nice coffee in relaxing surroundings whilst we were waiting for our room to be prepared. We then got changed into our running gear to go for a jog around the course, which was directly opposite the hotel in Santre Demense Park. The course was undulating and consisted of three 2K laps for the women. The Hotel was very much geared up for runners in general, providing maps of the park, fresh towels, apples and water in the foyer.
After the run I had to go and collect my England kit and was really looking forward to actually receiving it. After picking up my kit, race program and number, we decided to have an early meal, as I had to attend a team brief at 19.45. At the meeting, the England Team Manager went over the course and the timings of the races. There were to be four races, the first for females 35 to 70+ and males 65 to 75+ over 6K, the second for males 50 to 64 over 8K, the third for males 35 to 49 over 8K and the fourth for reserves and masters of all age groups over 6K. We were informed that the weather forecast for the next day was for rain and that the course held a lot of water.
The rain did indeed arrive on race day, but luckily the temperature had not dropped, so it was a case of trying to keep as dry as possible before the race started. After breakfast, we walked over to the park and got to meet and chat with a lot of the England team members. It was quite reassuring to find that the vast majority of people were nervous, despite many of them having competed in International events before.
Each team had an official photograph taken before the event started and England were the first at 10.00. At the photo shoot, I met up with Cheryl Oakshott, from City of Hull. Cheryl was competing in the reserves race at 14.00 and was with her partner, Cliff. After the photograph had been taken, Mike and I walked around the course, which was already becoming soggy and the race was not due to start until 11.30. I did however manage to keep warm, as I had been really worried about getting cold and wet before the race started. Before I knew it, there was only 30 minutes to go, so I had a warm up jog and did a few strides on the athletics track at the back of the park before making my way to the start. I wanted to make sure I got a good position for the start as there were over 200 in my race and parts of the course were quite narrow.
We all lined up in the pouring rain, the hooter sounded and we were off. It was great to get lots of support from Mike, Cheryl and Cliff at various sections of the course. All three of them ran to different places to cheer me on.
There was also lots of support from all of the other spectators, with shouts of “come on England”, which really carried you along.
The conditions were a lot more difficult than I anticipated due to the heavy rain and although I am used to running laps in training, it felt strangely disorientating. With arms and legs feeling leaden, the finishing straight was welcome.
I finished in 8th place in a time of 25:20, the winner being Claire Donald of England in a time of 23:48. The England ladies W55 team won the gold medal.
I walked back to the hotel with Mike and changed out of my very wet and muddy kit, then got a quick shower and change so that we could go watch the men’s races and the reserves race. Mike, Cliff and I walked round to different parts of the course to cheer Cheryl on.
The next stage of the day was the presentation banquet. We met up with Cheryl and Cliff in the foyer and went into the banquet room. On entering the room, everyone was instructed to sit at a table displaying the flag of their country. The meal was then served and the presentation started. The individual winners of each age group were called up, followed by the winning teams and the medals were presented. After receiving medals, we were directed to an area for official photographs to be taken, which were available for purchase almost immediately afterwards. The atmosphere in the banquet room was fantastic and really friendly.
The whole weekend was amazing and I felt very proud to represent England, it was an experience I will never forget.
Thanks to everyone for all the lovely messages I received.
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