One of the great things about running marathons is that it often entices you to travel around and visit different cities or far flung locations. The recent marathons in Berlin and Chicago for instance attracted a lot of British runners and others for all over the world. They can also end up taking you to places you might not otherwise have thought to go to. That was certainly the case for Heather Khoshnevis when she headed up north for the MBNA Chester Marathon.
Those who know Heather will know that she runs marathons quite frequently so for, the distance isn’t really a big deal. This wasn’t just any marathon though. The 2022 Chester Marathon was hosting the England Athletics Age Group Masters Championships. That meant Heather would be competing as part of the England Athletics Masters Team and would be up against the cream of the crop in the country for her age category.
Heather is in the over 60 age group but she is still incredibly fit and fast and there aren’t too many ladies out there in that category who can match her. She’s still incredibly dedicated in her training as well and always ensure she arrives at these races in good shape.
She had to qualify to compete in the EA Age Groups Masters Championships and gain the privilege of putting on the England vest. That meant finishing in the top three out of her age category in one of the designated qualifying races and recording a certain time, according to her specific age group.
Heather wasn’t the only Bournemouth AC member to achieve that though. Helen Ambrosen did it as well, completing the Milton Keynes Marathon in 4 hours 20 minutes. Unfortunately she got heat stroke on one of her long runs in the sweltering conditions over the summer months and sort of lost her way a bit after that. As a result, she ended up pulling out of the Chester Marathon which was a real shame after how hard she worked to get there.
Heather was there though and she was determined to do herself her club and her country proud. It wasn’t the first time she’d pulled on the England Athletics vest though. She did it last year at the Yorkshire Marathon as well and on that occasion she got a gold medal, finishing first in her age category for the EA Master Championships.
Being part of the EA Masters squad also meant a reunion for Heather with former Bournemouth AC coach Tom Craggs, who used to take the Tuesday night interval sessions. Tom is head honcho at England Athletics and made sure all the athletes in the England team were well looked after.
They had their own headquarters at the start location which was Chester Racecourse and they followed the England Athletics flag to the start line where they congregated in their own start pen, just behind the elites.
After a lively start in the city centre, the route then passes all Chester’s iconic landmarks before heading out into the countryside. After about eight miles it then crossed into North Wales for the next eight miles or so. Whilst there they were greeted by some very cheerful support from the locals, although Heather wasn’t quite sure what they were saying.
Although it may sound lovely, to Heather it just seemed like endless long straight roads with plenty of lumps and bumps. More than she was expecting actually as she’d been led to believe it would fast and flat.
There weren’t any real mountains on the course but there were certainly enough undulations to remind the legs that they needed to stay awake and keeping working. Some parts of the route were quite scenic and pretty but Heather didn’t really notice them and doesn’t tend to take too much that in whilst she’s racing.
The course headed back along the banks of the River Dee before arriving back into the city centre where the crowds would be there cheer the runners on to the finish.
Completing the course in 3 hours 43 minutes and 45 seconds, Heather came 783rd out of 2,404 and was 134th fastest female out of 717. In the FV60 category, she was 6th best out of 30.
Littledown Harriers lady Caroline Horder was 1st in the FV70 category, clocking a superb time of 3:53:57. Dave Hicks of Poole AC was there as well and he ran well to finish in 51st place in a time of 2:45:42 which put him in 8th place in the MV45 category. David Neal, also of Poole AC, finished in 691st place in a time of 3:40:20, which put him 6th in the MV65 category.
The winner of the race was David Bishop of Derby Athletic Club and he recorded a sensational time of 2:20:22. Thomas Charles of Chorlton Runners was 2nd in 2:22:56 and Jack Nixon of Bury St Edmond Pacers was 3rd in 2:26:28.
Sarah Webster of Northern AC on the Isle of Man was first female, crossing the line 2:44:29 which put her in 46th place overall. That meant Annabel Granger of Bristol and West AC had to settle for 2nd place with her time of 2:47:24 which put her in 60th place overall. Then it was Sarah Holt of the The Stragglers RC who reached the line in 2:47:56 to take 63rd place overall.
After finishing, the EA Masters athletes were taken back to their headquarters where they had a lovely spread of hot food and and drinks laid out for them. They then proceeded to the Racecourse Arena for the prize giving.
Heather was humbled to receive a bronze award for finishing 3rd in her age category out of the EA Masters Championship athletes. The standard in the group of extremely high and the competition was fierce so this was a really good achievement from Heather and one she could be extremely proud of.
Above all though, she was happy to visited Chester and found it to be a gorgeous city and one that she would definitely recommend people go to for a spot of sightseeing.