British Masters Athletics Federation XC Championships 9th March 2019 Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Irish eyes were smiling on the British Masters Championships as the Saturday race day weather window gave us a muddy course but sunny dry, though windy weather to alleviate both racing, it’s preparation and spectating. Rain on Friday and a storm to delay the return to Blighty on Sunday dampened the proceedings but not the HHH spirit to compete and enjoy our weekend.
Saturday’s race, held in the dramatic shadow of the imposing Northern Ireland Assembly Parliament Buildings seated at the top of the Stormont Park estate, consisted of the typical British Master Championship elite, almost all of them considering themselves capable or worthy of individual or team medals.
The course ran parallel to the main road leading from the spectacular portals to the house’s front. A varying terrain of underestimated undulations, tight turns and mud in awkward places defined the 2km lap of which there were four to complete, to make up the 8 km. distance. And the dynamic start left Jeff Cunningham and Alan Barnes close to the leading group. As the four laps thoroughly tested the runners, Alan struggled with the recurrence of injury he has been trying to overcome and slipped back into the field whilst bravely still closing out for the benefit of the team.
Jeff Cunningham, despite his high mileage marathon training legs, led the HHH charge to the line earning individual M35 2nd and silver medal. Matt Munro, another taking first steps into veterans racing fitted well between Alan and Jeff to finish 14th M40 as the three made up the scoring team.
James Ward was in full flow as back-up to the M35+ medalling team in 19th M40 position, whilst M55 Rob Nagorski, another Veteran racing virgin, found the race both exhilarating and tough. President Waldy Pauzers, closed out the HHH squad with a game effort, preparing for one of those nights out, for which he is probably better known.
Yes, a Guinness presentation, followed a sauna for some, before the post-race debriefing dinner, and more Guinness led to live music behind the Cathedral and a bit of late night dancing in this lively and friendly city. Worth a visit? Yes. And that also includes next year’s BMAF XC Championships where we should have greater expectations and numbers, too.
As is always the case in this UK Championship race, there are no mugs in the relatively small quality field, but HHH demonstrated our ability and willingness to take on the best at ‘the top table’ of British Athletics.
Now we need a serious attack on all fronts at Solihull’s BMAF road relays in May !
Vets Team Manager.
Full Results can be seen here: