I arrived in Perth just after midnight on Tuesday morning and was fortunate enough to get picked up by my old mate Stuart Moore, from my Shaftesbury Harrier days. Stu kindly offered to put me up for the first few days at his family home in Floreat, a 1.8km jog from the start line for the Cross Country at Perry Lakes Reserve.
My plan was to go out hard and then ease back and not to race the M50's as I would be racing faster guys than me in the 5000m on Saturday that were not competing in the cross country.
At the gun, I got off ok and settled in behind M50's Anders Dahl and Bruce Graham. However, they seemed to be hammering it, so I was happy to let them gap me. Unusually for me, I looked at my first km split on the Garmin 3:13 ! Too fast. Bruce and Anders must have been 3:08. As I dropped back M50 Pommie Paul Thompson caught me and headed on. I managed to hold onto his coat tails as we began to haul back the leading two.
By the end of the second of four two km loops we had all come together and the four of us ran in a bunch. I sensed the pace had dropped off a little but was happy to have the respite.
I had mistaken the Swede for Gunnar X the guy who had finished second to David Heath in the World's 1500m at Lyon last year = a speed merchant! My thoughts were that he was just biding his time for a sprint finish that he would win.
Of course by this stage it was hard for me not to race or want to stay with these guys.
There was a good gap to the 5th place runner so I just had to maintain momentum to win my age cat. As we neared the finish I had no thoughts of competing in the sprint and didn't fully sense that Bruce had kicked and was gone.
I was ahead of the Swede as we turned the corner for the final 100m and I thought it would be cool to get his scalp so I did give it some welly!
The route through to the finish line was pretty congested with lapped runners and I only noticed on the line that the 2nd placer Paul Thompson was just in front of me.
Of course I was chuffed to bits to win a Word Masters title! I had been dreaming of this moment for three years. I couldn't believe my luck to have Perth chosen as the venue and for the Championships to be staged just a month after I turned 55 to run youngest in age group.
Bruce missed out by two months so I was so pleased for him to win the M50's at age 54.9, after he won Bronze at Lyon.
My category winning margin, at nearly two minutes, for a "World" title, puts a question mark on the status of these Championship's. There are better guys than me out there who chose not to, or could not afford, to compete. But it is what it is and I am proud to have a World Masters Championship crown on my palmares 😀
Now to take on the 5000m which is going to be competitive. Will it be tactical? will it be a slog fest? what tactics do I employ?
One things for sure I am just pleased to have made it to the start line in something like competitive shape.
When I think back to the months off running with injury this year. The time spent on the bike, the early morning runs, the Sunday long runs around the arduous roads of Narangba, the first 'track' session this year on the school grass oval where I felt anything but a potential Masters World Champion. I am truly grateful to have pulled it off but none of it would have been possible without the love and understanding of my wife and family x