9 Feb

New Opportunities For Angela Copson, BEM

Angela and HaileMost people celebrate their birthdays but few beyond their teenage years actually relish getting older. Master athletes are an exception to the general rule and Angela Copson is the epitomy of the forward looking, enthusiastic older person, with huge ambitions for 2017. Records for master athletes are set in five year age-groups from over-35 so the slate is effectively wiped clean periodically and new challenges arise. 

Angela's 70th year started on an all-time high with the award of the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year's Honours List for services to athletics and charity work. Born on 20th April 1947 at Brixworth in Northamptonshire, this unique athlete will be 70 years young in time for a crack at the W70 marathon world best in London, currently held by Germany's Helga Miketta (3:35:29). 
 
Angela has broken 48 British, European and World records or bests in the W60 and W65 age groups. She achieved her records in distances ranging from 400m to the marathon and half of these records were world-best times. As she leaves the W65 category she holds world records for the mile, 3,000m and 10,000m and ran the marathon in 3:17:10 at Berlin in 2013.
 
Surprisingly, athletics has not always featured in Angela's life. In fact, she is a relative novice and only started running in 2006 to raise funds for Heart Research at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, where her husband received life saving surgery. She will be running London Marathon for the British Heart Foundation proudly sporting the colours of her club, Rugby & Northampton AC.
 
Her first marathon (London, 2007) revealed a latent talent for endurance running as the grandmother-of-three finished in 3:57:15. Since then her progression has been meteoric, culminating in becoming the oldest woman to run the marathon under 3:30 when she recorded 3:24:54 in Manchester on 10th April 2016, aged 68 years and 356 days.
 
Despite 10 Masters World golds; 13 European Championships and 36 British titles, plus an unprecedented nine consecutive wins in the British & Irish Masters International Cross Country (2008 to 2016), the race that stands out in the memory of the 2012 European Masters Athlete of the Year was her W65 world best in the 2015 Morrisons Great Manchester 10K (40:30), where she met fellow world record holder, Haile Gebrselassie (see picture).
 
Angela pays tribute to her coach, Ian Wilson, and has this advice for runABC's older runners: “My advice is to enjoy what you do, don't expect to get fit overnight. As we age we lose our fitness faster; the aim is regular exercise, not putting too much stress on our bodies, so we can recover and enjoy the next day”.
 
Visit Angela's club website here for more information.