“Shall we wear our Master’s GB track suit to the airport?” “Yes, lets show off!” and so we did! It didn’t take long for the questions to follow the looks,
“Can I ask what sports you are representing?” and we were all proud to say “athletics” “old people’s athletics!” but were put in our place quickly and admired, it was on the tip of our tongues to not to say, “well anyone can enter, even you!” Being older somehow delighted the public and spirits were high before boarding the plane to how exciting this adventure would be.
Hired two cars, Carol did most of the driving whilst Mick took the second car out when needed with Sally as back up, the car driven by Carol always arrived first at each destination and various jokes were had about her speed and race tactics relating to her police driving day’s – best was when she announced she’d never driven a left handed seven-seater vehicle or driven abroad before – gulp! But we knew we were in safe hands. The apartment was like something out of Dr Who, this tardis very quickly become home for the next few weeks.
The city of Malaga has four athletic stadiums which put us to shame, each well equipped with excellent free for competitor’s metro service between them.
Stadium 1, Main stadium – Ciudad de Malaga Stadium 2, Carranque Sports Centre (which we tented to call Cranke for some reason) Stadium 3, University City sports Centre Stadium 4, Torremolinos Athletic Track & cross-country Course.
Tuesday 4th September. When you think Jenny only started throwing just over a year ago and here she is at a World class event you must admire how far she has come in that time. Jenny’s spirit and personality meant we all got up early to watch her and she did not disappoint. It was only lack of experience that stopped her making the cut as potentially she has what it takes to get a medal – next time Jenny! Coach Pete Wishart was there to support and encourage, his help and our cheering was invaluable.
The evening show from those in our apartment came from Lesley Hall (W60) of Ashford and our Geraldine Legon (W60) from Bexley in the 5k walk – supported by our cheering CH team they did well.
Wednesday 5th September. 8k Cross Country Course. Lots of complaints about this course, it looked picturesque with the trail through the pine forest, but two ambulances called during the event probably gives you some idea of the terrain! It was either up or down, no flat! Lots of rocks covered with pine cones and despite their attempts to sweep up, it was still slippery. Four laps round meant some runners got confused and many slower runners were lapped.
Carol Marsh in the W55’s had a brilliant run, with Ros Tabor not far behind in the W65’s having an amazing run. Next race was the W35’s & W50’s combined. Christine Bond (W50’s), Susan Dixon (W50’s) and Sally Carr (W45’s) all pleased to see the finish in the heat of the mid-day sun. It wasn’t until later that via a text Sally found out she has been awarded a medal for 3rd place in the W45 team age group – we were already back at the apartment by this time showing! It meant Sally had missed the medal ceremony so after tracking the medal down, which took some, we were there to award her the medal, Sally is still in shock! Well done, you deserve this.
At the same time as the cross-country Jenny was back in a circle, this time the W50 Shot, she managed an excellent fourth place in her group and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, making new friends along the way, again new to the sports, this is a great achievement and coach Pete was there to support and share it with her.
It was the start of many rounds for the 100m, in this we had Ingrid Sells. Once again, a first at a major competition and she did not let the nerves show running a relaxed but powerful race, still smiling at the end not getting into the next round didn’t faze her and she was happy with how the race had gone.
Friday 7th September. Unfortunately, the athletes party coincided with Susan Dixon’s 200m which was late in the evening 9.30pm. Waiting all day nerves got the better of Susan and she didn’t race as well as she’d liked just missing out getting through the heats but valued the experience being relatively new to sports and this being her first major competition.
Having got through the heats of yesterday it was the final of the M75 300m Hurdles. Barry Ferguson just missed yet another medal at these games coming 4th but looked so much stronger in the final than the heats.
The Athletes’ party was very much what you made it and the GB team made it dance the night away. Barry’s advice was to grab anything that came your way food or drink and as it turned out, this was good advice for trays of small canapes were gone in seconds.
Sunday 9th September – Carol Marsh in the W55 10k road race in with it was the humidity that was against them more than the miles. Carol ran strong and was the third Brit home, in a time just outside her PB.
M55 Discus. It was Pete Wishart’s turn in the circle, on the 6th for the shot then on the 9th discus which is more like his event but due to rain, the circle was very slippery to the extent’s throwers were skating on the circle to prove a point, some did slip but the competition was still not cancelled. Throwers changed from discus shoes to ordinary trainers and very few decided to turn. The only comfort was it was the same for all the throwers but against this Pete kept smiling and accepted the conditions. It was later heard that the circle had not been finished properly and I am sure there will be a few complaints made.
Monday 10th September – Unfortunately the team had to split as we had two of our house mates Lesley & Geraldine in the 10k road walking race in one stadium and athletes for the 800m in another. Lesley had to pull out at the last minute due to injury whilst Geraldine missed a medal in the team event by 7 seconds in 4th.
A 9am start for Christine Bond in the W50’s high, what a lot of tall women! Now she knows what smaller people feel like standing next to her! With her right foot awaiting an operation and the left foot nursing a suspected broken toe she did well to complete thinking a week back she might have to withdraw. The men’s Javelin taking place at the same time in the same area making it quite fun to avoid getting in each other’s way! Didn’t jump as well as she wanted but again, just to be part of these games was great and like the others, she’d not completed at this level before.
Ros Tabor (W65) kicked off the start of the women’s 800m, she comfortably made it through to the final. Next was Carol Marsh in the W55 race having done the cross country and 10k road race a few days back. It was a brave move for Carol who’s had no experience of speed work to embrace this event, looking strong all the way round she ended with a smile giving herself a bench mark for an 800m with which to work on. “I really enjoyed that!” became our team mantra from Carol.
W50 800m – Susan Dixon ran a superb race, from the start she showed determination to stay with the group as far as she could but at the best they were just too fast and were pulling away from her on the second lap. A PB meant a good race. Well done Susan.
Christine Bond enjoyed the race and was really just happy to be there and competing – well afterwards anyway! Sally Carr had to wait around for nearly 6 hours for her race and again, looked strong and comfortable, but the field was very strong, she finished 2 seconds outside her PB so had a good race.
Tuesday 11th September 2018. Christine entered the javelin in case anything went wrong, and she couldn’t run whilst Carol we think entered because her legs had so much to do her arms were missing out! What an experience for both, with the pole vault going on the same time an official was allocated the job of alternating the run way between jumper and thrower. Carol in the W55, Christine in the W50’s soon earnt the respect of the other throwers who were friendly and supportive seeing neither as an early on threat!
Susan Dixon W50 had an excellent run and gained herself a PB but just missed out on making it through to the final. Lisa Atkinson and Sally Carr (W45) came up against some fast women also, both looked comfortable and ran their own races finishing with smiles and didn’t say they’d never do it again, so all was good!
Wednesday 12th September 2018 – Carol Marsh was on again, today’s entertainments in the 5k race on the track in very humid conditions, 12½ laps of cheering and at the end Carol was still heard to say, “I really enjoyed that!”
Thursday, 13th September
W65 400m heats Ros had to run as hard as she could to qualify for the final, and qualified 7th out of 8.
Friday 14th September 2018.
W65 400m final. Ros ran a second slower than in the heats and ended up 8th.
Barry arrived at the stadium with an upset stomach. However, only 8 of the declared athletes arrived at the call room for the 80m hurdles heats, so they retired for the final on Saturday.
Saturday 15th September 2018.
Back at the Carranque track and feeling a bit better, Barry took the lead after the first hurdle and held on for a narrow victory and his fastest time since 2015 in Birmingham.
Sunday 16th September 2018.
Ros Tabor was out bright and early to take bronze in the W65 1500 in a season’s best. She then took a rest while Barry raced to bronze in the M75 4x100m relay, and finished her championships with Gold in the 4x400m relay in a European record!
Exhausted after a busy fortnight, Carol drove Lisa to the airport and back to an early start for the half marathon at the main stadium. The weather was hot and humid but she came in with a credible time and earned a team bronze alongside two other GB W55.
Alas, the medal ceremony was running 1.5 hours late and she could not stay for the ceremony as her flight home was beckoning.
Another CH Pat Oaks was also at the games but unfortunately had to pull out of the hurdles due to injury having the long jump later on in the week. It was lovely to see Chris Head-Rapson and her husband Bob present to support us, it really is the support from the crowd that made these games so special on many levels
We would all like to thank Mick Bond for his support in organising this most memorable trip, for his daily time table in getting the team to where they should be and on time, for his calmness and ability to share an apartment with several women who are engaged in the highs and lows of competition!
We agreed that overall these championships have been an honour to participate in. The fitness of some of the older athletes is unbelievable, GB in particular has some amazing talent, to around, and amongst this elite and friendly group of athletes is inspirational.
Thanks also goes to Bob (Geraldine’s husband) for being the only male company for Mick who again had a house full of women with both pre-& post-race heads! And for the lovely meal he cooked when we all came home.
Here’s to a bigger representation from CH for the European next September or the Worlds the following year!
Apologies if we’ve missed anyone out, please feel free to contact Wole for your piece on the Worlds from Malaga.
A video of Barry’s Gold medal winning run in the M75 80m hurdles is shown below: