Yuko Gordon was among the record-breakers as veterans took part in the inaugural Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Championships
While most eyes were on the elite Africans and top British seniors in at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday (Oct 3) there were three outstanding age-group British records.
Hong Kong’s 1984 Olympian Yuko Gordon set a UK W70 record of 3:25:30.
Gordon passed halfway in 1:40:51 but at this stage actually trailed Korean-born American Jeannie Rice, who has broken the world age group record herself with 3:24:48 in Berlin in 2019 although the mark has yet to be ratified.
Rice, who started a few minutes ahead of Gordon, went through halfway in 1:39:57 but was passed by Gordon in the second half and could only run her last full 5km in 31:03 to Gordon’s 24:59 and ended up with 3:38:38.
Gordon said: “I go out to win every race. Today wasn’t my best performance. It was a tough course. But I am very happy to have won my age category.”
Rice said: “The Age Group World Championships were fabulous. London was incredible and I enjoyed the whole marathon very much. I can’t wait until next time.”
Susan McDonald, who won world masters medals on road and country in Toruń in Poland in accompanying events in the last World Masters Indoor Championships, set a British W50 record to take a minute off Jo Thompson’s 12-year-old 2:52:30 with 2:51:27.
The 54-year-old blasted the first 5km in 18:56, which is 2:40 pace, and though gradually easing back was still on for a huge revision at halfway as she actually set a half-marathon PB of 82:59.
She continued to slow but only marginally with a 21:14 last 5km as she completed a 88:28 second half.
Michael Sheridan, 72, became the oldest Briton to break three hours when he ran a British M70 best of 2:59:37. He hit halfway in 90:16 but got quicker over the second half and his fastest 5km split of 20:41 came from 35km to 40km and he was an even faster pace over the last 2km.
Fellow M70 Yiu-Tung Law, ‘ran’ an alleged 2:50:13 in the virtual event but it curiously included a 38:47 first 5km and a 13:17 fourth 5km which suggests he was either on a bike or bus!
One interesting M70 competitor in the virtual race who did run all the right distance was 1972 Olympian Ray Smedley. The Munich 1500m semi-finalist, who also represented England in the 1982 Commonwealth Games marathon, ran 3:48:19.
One of the most dominant age-group performances came from Ireland’s 1992 Olympian Tommy Hughes, who narrowly missed his world M60 record as he ran 2:30:46 after a fast 1:13:45 first half and won the title by 20 minutes.
The fastest two masters competed in the elite race and Andrew Davies was first in 2:15:36 ahead of Nick Torry’s 2:18:39 though the Wanda world age group title went to fellow Briton Karl Welborn’s 2:21:36.
The 2008 Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Shalane Flanagan was first W40 in the mass race in 2:35:04 although Sinead Diver ran 2:28:06 in the earlier-starting elite women’s race.
The winner of the Wanda age group event though was Briton Sarah Webster in a three-minute PB of 2:41:24 improving her 2:44:29 time which she had set both in winning the Isle of Man Marathon this year and in finishing second in London in 2019.
There was a highly competitive and slightly confusing M45 section, with Masters International winner Chris Greenwood leading through halfway on the road and on chip times (72:11) but he slowed and ended up fourth on chip time (2:28:14).
The first M45 to cross the finish line was Ben Shearer, who went off with Greenwood just behind the elite field and finished much the stronger but ultimately his chip time of 2:26:59 only gave him third spot.
For those waiting at the finish line it would have been a highly confusing watch when they compared with the final published results as next across the line were John Sharp (2:29:53) and Steve Hobbs (2:31:02) but on chip times they ended up sixth and ninth respectively.
The fifth across the line ended up second on chip time as the Russian Farid Mukhamedzarifov had set off six minutes behind Shearer at the start and went slightly quicker in marginally closing the gap with a 2:26:27 clocking.
The Russian may well have thought he had won overall as he was a second up on his main race rival on the road Stuart Haynes at 35km and had a strong finish to stretch the gap to 15 seconds at the line but was probably not aware that Haynes had started a similar distance behind him and Haynes’ PB 2:26:26 gained victory by virtue of his chip time by just a single second even though the Briton was sixth across the finish line.
Jonathan Walton won the M50 race in 2:29:01 while Russian Yuri Strofilov headed the M55s with 2:38:16.
Steve Watmough, who won the age group in 2019 was only fourth in 2:41:52 but it is believed his time was a new age UK 59 record.
Mexico’s Maria Yamin Morales narrowly edged the W55 title in 2:57:56.
USA’s M65 Jacob Nur dominated his category with 2:52:13.
David Winch, who led home the M70 category in 2017 and 2018, this time gained his first M75 crown in 3:33:34.
Annabel Granger dominated the W45 age group with a 2:49:48 while in the W60 category Norwegian Kari Langerud (3:14:45) narrowly got the better of Ange Norris (3:15:38) but it was the latter that won the Wanda World event with Langerud not entered.
USA’s Leslie Cohen was easily victorious in the W65s in 3:33:53 with Sue Nicholls equally dominant in the W75s with 4:25:30.
Virginia Pawlyn was first W80 with a 5:11:44 clocking.
Gerry Miller of Canada, 84, also excelled with 5:10:54 to be first M80 and said: “I am very blessed to be able to run and to be part of this wonderful, compassionate group of runners. Running allows me to overcome all the things that are not so perfect in the world. It allows me to relax and be in the moment, and that is life. We all just need to enjoy the run.”
Hugh Brasher, London Marathon event director, said: “Sunday was a landmark day for the Abbott World Marathon Majors with the inaugural Wanda Age Group World Championships. These age group athletes are inspiring in their performances. They show that age is no barrier to achievement and they embody the spirit of the Abbott World Marathon Majors community.”