"Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running." - Julie Isphording, former Olympic runner
That quote would certainly apply to Angela Duncan of Hillingdon AC. Angela ran in the England Athletics National Cross Country Championships on Saturday 24 February 2018 for her club. So did over 9000 other runners! Parliament Hill, often quoted as the spiritual home of cross country, was the setting for Angela's run and what a beautiful sunny day it was.
On climbing the hill (those of you who know the course will instantly recognise the enormity of my task!) Linda and I were gently cooled by a strong easterly wind blowing in as a pre-cursor to the Beast from the East. No, Vladimir Putin is not making a state visit any time soon - this is the name given by those clever meteorologists and weather people to the winds and weather coming at us from 'over there' wherever that may be.
The races were off to a fine start with the Under 17 Women and followed very quickly by all the other age-groups (8 in all) culminating with the Senior Men, who ran over 12 kilometres. At the present time there is much debate about the inequality regarding the difference in race distances for the genders. It is a debate that will, hopefully, be resolved sensibly. Women race the same distances as Men on the track, so, why not cross country?
Angela ran in the Senior Women's race - 8k - and, at 77 years old was the oldest in the race. “I do wonder when I get there, what am I doing here? It is cold and miserable but once you get that first mud splash and feet wet it can be quite amusing.” she told Nick Hoult of The Daily Telegraph (you can read the article about the National Cross Country here).
Linda and I were made aware of the exploits of Angela by one of her clubmates, who told us quite a bit about this runner. On getting home, I googled Angela's name and found out that she also runs parkrun and ran, one week before 'The National', 32:01 at Black Park parkrun. Her best time over a 5k parkrun course is 28:44 completed in the 75 - 79 age group.
There is no doubting Angela's credentials or her quality. She also has a philosophical view when it comes to equality in race distances. “I don’t really want to go any further than I have to. Twice up that hill is a bit much,” says Angela Duncan, who has run eight marathons since her late 60s. “But I am old enough to remember when women were not allowed to do the marathon, the fact we can do that sort of thing is great. The youngsters coming through are brilliant and I can see they want to do the same as the men. It would send a more positive message to young girls but when you are out there and you are only doing 8k and the men are doing 10, it is quite nice.” (Once again - credit to the Daily Telegraph and Nick Hoult for the quote)
Angela completed the course in a time of 1:04.14 and finished 1105 out of 1113 finishers.