Famous racecourse sees English veteran cross-country runners get the best of their rivals at the British and Irish Masters International on Saturday

With home and population advantage, as expected England dominated at Aintree taking 12 of the 17 team titles at the annual British and Irish Masters International cross-country event, although the other nations had their moments as England struggled in a few younger age groups.

England won 10 of the 18 individual titles on offer and some of the best ever and current top masters such as Nigel Gates, Tim Hartley, Andrew Leach, Clare Elms and Angela Copson were among their winners.

All-time great Gates, who was second in the M65 race last year, went one better this time, pulling clear on the last lap from England team-mate David Butler, who himself was a three-time M55 winner and has made a good recovery recently from a broken leg.

Northern Ireland had a great day in Aintree and their former M65 champion Terry Eakin dominated the last lap of the M70 race, having he admitted trained hard on the sand in recent weeks on the Ulster coast.

Peter Giles, who was once in a band with famed guitarist Robert Fripp, was the day’s biggest winner – close on two minutes – as he won the M75 title having clung on to the back of a group containing Eakin until the final flat 2km circuit inside the famous Merseyside venue, which stages the Grand National horse race every April.

The M65 and W65+ race was making its debut as a separate race, and was previously lost among the women but sensibly splitting the field gave more space and allowed Ann White of Scotland more attention as she, like Gates, went one better than in 2018 as she also led Scotland to a team win.

Only a few seconds back at the end was W70 champion Angela Copson, who incredibly won her 12th successive title in the event. She was followed in by European champion and Olympian Penny Forse.

Northern Ireland also won W75 gold as Brigid Quinn won the inaugural title from former England team manager Elaine Statham.

The main women’s race followed, also over three laps, and that saw a great battle between last year’s top two Teresa Doherty of Ireland and England’s Kirsty Longley.

This time it was Longley who was stronger on the last lap and buoyed by her recent 33:40 10km PB at Leeds, she won by 11 seconds from Doherty.

Third overall and retaining her W35 title was Scotland’s Michelle Sandison.

The W35 team race went to Ireland as England were only the fifth team.

Longley did lead the English to W40 team gold and former multiple overall winner Claire Martin led England to W45 team success with a 25-second win over marathon international Emma Stepto.

England also won the W50s and W55s and their W55 and British masters athlete of the year Clare Elms was the only runner to beat all the younger age group.

The three-time W50 winner was disappointed with her third place last year but was happier with her run here in her new age group, just behind W45 Stepto and well clear of European 5000m champion Annette Kealy of Ireland, who took the W50 crown ahead of England’s Sue McDonald to replicate their world masters positions from Torun earlier this year, where Elms also headed Kealy.

In the W60s, England’s Sue Cordingly dominated, defeating 2018 winner Pauline Moran of Ireland.

The third race off was the M50 to M60 event and there M50 Tim Hartley was another to hold back before easing away on the final lap and he won by 20 seconds from Northern Ireland’s Eamonn White, who with Steve Cairns third led Northern Ireland to a clear win over England.

Third overall in the race was European M55 10,000m champion Andrew Leach who was another coming off a fast 10km in Leeds, where he almost broke the British record for his age group.

He won by half a minute from Ireland’s Tommy Hughes, who had a sensational road result of his own recently when he ran a world 59 age best of 2:27 for the marathon in Frankfurt.

World champion and former overall M50 winner Ben Reynolds was third as England won easily (the main image above features Leach (centre), Hughes (left) and Reynolds).

The M60 race was the closest of the day. Defending champion Alastair Walker, who is the reigning world and European champion at 10km on the road, moved clear on the last lap and seemed destined for another clear win but Robert Atkinson finished fast and was just a second down at the finish.

The day’s final international race was the M35 to M45 race. That also saw a defending champion win in style as Mark McKinstry, the current Northern Ireland senior champion, blasted away on the first lap and won in a sensational 24:51 for the 8km, which had quite a few muddy sections.

Scotland’s M35s Stuart Gibson and Richard Mair followed and led their team to a big win over Ireland with England again out of the medals in the youngest age group.

Second overall was European M40 1500m champion Matt Barnes, who took gold in his age group with Paul Moloney in second leading Ireland to victory.

English M45 Terry Scott headed the M40s on the first lap and though slowing held on well to easily win the age group and while England had disappointment in some age groups that wasn’t the case in the in Scott’s age group as they packed six in the first eight for the most dominant team display of the whole day.

There was an open race at the end of the programme where European masters W40 champion won the women’s race, but full results weren’t available after the event.

The best-known competitor, though, was further back. Ian Thompson was there supporting his wife Margaret and, now in the M70 category, the 1974 European and Commonwealth champion, who when he ran his European and Commonwealth record 2:09:12 was the second fastest in history, enjoyed his three laps around the racecourse.


M35: 1 Mark McKinstry (NIR) 24:51; 2 Stuart Gibson (SCO) 25:24; 3 Richard Mair (SCO) 25:26. TEAM: 1 SCO 22; 2 IRL 29; 3 NIR 45

M40:  1 Matt Barnes (ENG) 25:21; 2 Paul Moloney (IRL) 25:25; 3 Alan O’Brien (IRL) 25:27. TEAM: 1 IRL 16; 2 ENG 27; 3 SCO 46

M45:  1 Terry Scott (ENG) 25:37; 2 Scott Brember (SCO) 25:54; 3 Andrew Grant (ENG) 26:02. TEAM: 1 ENG 14; 2 IRL 25; 3 SCO 44

M50: 1 Tim Hartley (ENG) 26:06; 2 Eamon White (NIR) 26:26; 3 Steve Cairns (NIR) 27:08. TEAM: 1 NIR 20; 2 ENG 27; 3 SCO 57

M55: 1 Andrew Leach (ENG) 26:58; 2 Tommy Hughes (IRL) 27:26; 3 Ben Reynolds (ENG) 27:36. TEAM: 1 ENG 9; 2 IRL 13; 3 SCO 32

M60:  1 Alastair Walker (SCO) 28:18; 2 Robert Atkinson (ENG) 28:19; 3 David Clarke (NIR) 28:33. TEAM: 1 ENG 14; 2 SCO 22; 3 Wales 23

M65:  1 Nigel Gates (ENG) 22:28; 2 David Butler (ENG) 22:42; 3 Paul Elliot (IRL) 23:02. TEAM: 1 ENG 9; 2 SCO 17; 3 IRL 19

M70: 1 Terry Eakin (NIR) 25:05; 2 Alex Sutherland (SCO) 25:17; 3 Mick Casey (ENG) 25:26. TEAM: 1 ENG 12; 2 SCO 17; 3 IRL 33

M75: 1 Peter Giles (ENG) 25:22; 2 Bobby Young (SCO) 27:19; 3 Emyr Davies (WAL) 27:31. TEAM: 1 ENG 10; 2 SCO 21; 3 WAL 25

W35: 1 Michelle Sandison (SCO) 21:35; 2 Fiona Kehoe (IRL) 21:33; 3 Claire McGuigan (IRL) 21:37. TEAM: 1 IRL 9; 2 SCO 12; 3 NIR 29; 4 WAL 40; 5 ENG 46

W40: 1 Kirsty Longley (ENG) 21:00; 2 Teresa Doherty (IRL) 21:11; 3 Elizabeth Renondeau (ENG) 21:58. TEAM: 1 ENG 8; 2 IRL 16; 3 SCO 33

W45: 1 Claire Martin (ENG) 22:02; 2 Emma Stepto (ENG) 22:27; 3 Jennifer MacLean (SCO) 22:44. TEAM: 1 ENG 8; 2 IRL 18; 3 SCO 26

W50:  1 1 Annette Kealy (IRL) 22:49; 2 Susan McDonald (ENG) 23:09; 3 Wendy Chapman (ENG) 23:13. TEAM: 1 ENG 11; 2 IRL 18; 3 SCO 25

W55: 1 Clare Elms (ENG) 22:31; 2 Kay Byrne (IRL) 22:53; 3 Niamh O’Sullivan (IRL) 23:21. TEAM: 1 ENG 10; 2 IRL 16; 3 SCO 23

W60: 1 Sue Cordingley (ENG) 24:42; 2 Pauline Moran (IRL) 25:09; 3 Jane Davies (ENG) 25:53. TEAM: 1 ENG 8; 2 IRL 16; 3 SCO 24

W65: 1 Ann White (SCO) 27:18; 2 Jane Waterhouse (SCO) 27:35; 3 Dot Kesterton (ENG) 27:39. TEAM: 1 SCO 7; 2 ENG 21; 3 IRL 22

W70: 1 Angela Copson (ENG) 27:24; 2 Penny Forse (ENG) 27:59; 3 Margaret Glavey (IRL) 28:02. TEAM: 1 ENG 7; 2 Ireland 18; 3 Wales 21

W75: 1 Brigid Quinn (NIR) 33:50; 2 Elaine Statham (ENG) 34:10; 3 Lesley Bowcott (ENG) 34:20 (no team competition)

» See the November 21 issue of AW for full coverage from Aintree

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