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.
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.
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.
Gerry Miller of Canada, 84, also excelled with 5:10:54 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.”