Martin Duff looks at the masters athletes who have set age-group records in 2014 and performed well overall

Angela Copson and Martin Rees, two of Great Britain’s most prolific veteran record-breakers, were again among those setting all-time records over the standard road distances in 2014, but perhaps the most significant new best went to Steve Way, who finally erased Ron Hill’s 1979 M40 marathon record of 2:15:46 from the record books.

Copson, who added W65 5km, 10km and half-marathon bests to her portfolio in 2014, now holds all of the fastest times over six distances for both the W60 and W65 age groups. Her coach Ian Wilson said: “A full set of W65 and W60 road bests by someone who only started running when she was 59 to raise funds for the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford is exceptional. She does really enjoy her running and I, and many others, wonder what she might have achieved had she started running 40-plus years before.”

Copson herself said: “This as been a very enjoyable athletics year for me, especially as I have stayed injury free and have run over 50 races. The Bath Half-marathon stands out for me, as I did very little training for this race, so was pleased with a British best of 94:44.

“I am now concentrating on my cross country, which I hope will prepare me for another enjoyable and successful year in 2015.”

Copson has also set many W60 and W65 records on the track but, with her 5km at 20:38 this year to go with her W65 marathon record of 3:09:15 from Berlin last year, she has an impressive range.

M60 Rees who set just one British best this year, over 5km, holds 15 age-group records from M45 to M60.

Rees said: “I was happy with my races this year but felt that I can go faster as there were windy conditions in quite a few of them. My best for distances this year are all age-61 world single age bests (5km: 16:06, 5-mile: 26:40, 10km: 33:26, 10-mile: 55:27 and half marathon: 72:27).”

It was Way’s breakthrough, initially in the London Marathon with 2:16:27, then 2:15:16 in the Commonwealth Games that was the most significant masters record of the year. This bettered Ron Hill’s 1979 previous M40 best by 30 seconds and finally removed doubts about the authenticity of the former European marathon champion’s mark.

Way told Athletics Weekly that he had spoken to Hill and the 76-year-old had himself expressed doubts over the legitimacy of his New Orleans time.

Former international Ian Bloomfield, who ran 2:17:42 20 years ago, added his name to the record books with his 2:44:35 as an M60, which came on his third attempt at the record. Also over the marathon distance, the efforts of 44-year-old Emma Stepto are surely worth a mention here, as the Cornwall runner was timed at 2:32:40 in Frankfurt to stress that athletes of 40-plus can still compete with the best.

She said: “I was upset at missing out on Commonwealth Games qualification, knowing that I was capable of better. I was delighted to run so strongly in Cardiff to be British half-marathon champion (72:28). Frankfurt was my target race as I proved that I could still PB.”

Her time was the third best ever by a W40 for the marathon behind Priscilla Welch’s 2:26:51 and Joyce Smith’s 2:29:43. Her half is the second best ever W40 time to Lorna Irving’s 71:44.

Also in good form throughout the year were M65 Peter Molloy and M70 Martin Ford, who both posted British best 5km marks in the BMAF Championships at Horwich. Molloy said: “Although I was competing mainly on the track I decided to give the British Masters 5km champs a go, which was a good decision as I ran better than I expected. I ran a 5km in Bristol one second inside the British best then ran 17:42 at Horwich, which was 21 seconds inside the existing best time and also a European record.”

Molloy summed up what running is all about for many veterans when he said that to succeed “you have to manage injuries”.

Over the undulating Horwich three-and-a-bit lapper, Ford was also in age group best form with 19:02. Even further up the age scale, Fred Gibbs set an M75 masters best of 71:44 for the classic 10-mile distance at Thirsk.

Age-group marks set in 2014
Age groupDistanceNameTimeVenueDate
M40MarathonSteve Way2:15:16GlasgowJuly 27
M60MarathonIan Bloomfield2:44:35 (2:44:27 chip)ManchesterApril 6
5kmMartin Rees16:06CardiffAugust 6
M655kmPeter Molloy17:42HorwichJune 15
M705kmMartin Ford19:02HorwichJune 15
M7510MFred Gibbs71:44 (71:39 chip)ThirskMarch 23
W655kmAngela Copson20:38BlisworthAugust 1
10kmAngela Copson42:21 (42:11 chip)Kings LynnMay 4
HMAngela Copson94:44 (94:37 chip)BathMarch 2