Zoe Doyle earns World Masters Athletics Championships double medals in Malaga

At the beginning of September, a record-breaking 100-plus countries descended on the beautiful old city of Malaga for the biennial World Masters Athletics Track & Field Championships.  After two years of intense training, 8,000 athletes from all all over the world were finally ready for their big moment. One of those athletes was ashmei run team’s Zoe Doyle. We’ll let her take it from here…

Malaga was the setting for the 2018 World Masters Championships

Back in June, I moved up an age category. Although I was excited at the prospect of doing well as a new W40, I also didn’t let it stop me celebrating the big 40. I went on a trip to Ibiza with my girlfriends, then returned to race at Watford on my actual birthday. I didn’t run as well as hoped. I was a bit tired from all the late nights, but I still made it to the top of the W40 UK rankings in the 800m. The following weekend I raced at the BMC at Eltham and got a new pb in the 1500m of 4.36.

Even on her family holiday, Zoe trained hard for the Champs

Of greater concern was the fact that I had picked up a little niggling injury which was stopping me from running at full speed. As I had been racing since March, I had purposely planned a break and took two weeks off running to get treatment on my hip. I could run but was not able to do speed work. This was fine for 1500m training but not ideal for the 800m. I agreed with my coach and physio that it was better to go into the Champs with no injury and slightly under trained than trained but still carrying the injury. I had two races before the Champs, both of which were at Watford. In the end, I did OK at both (4.38 for 1500m and 2.15 for 800m). Thankfully the injury had gone, but I could have done with another two weeks of training. In truth I was just happy to be running well again in time for the Champs.

The immediate weeks before the Champs found me working on my mindset by reading books on performance and positive thinking. I was excited to have the opportunity to test myself and to see what I could do against the best runners in my age category in the World.  The competition was the biggest ever World Masters with well over 8,000 competitors and the standard was unbelievable across all ages and distances. To illustrate, I had two Olympians and several international athletes in my races. We had to run heats the night before the finals and in the end I had to run hard just to get through. Having not put the expectation on myself to win medals, like I had in previous Champs, I just wanted to run my best. I purposely did not look at the start lists or competitor times in order to go into the races with a good, positive mindset.
Zoe won her heat in the World Masters 800m in a time of 2:17

In the 800m heat it was the first two to get through and the four fastest losers from the four heats. The pace was slow, so after 250m I took the race on.  I ran steady then gradually wound up the pace for the last 400m, winning the race in 2.17. It felt easy and I was feeling confident.  The next morning was the 800m final and I can tell you that the race was messy. I was aware that I was running really wide, but made a break to the front at just after 400m.  I felt fine but the lactic just hit my legs with 50m to go. I couldn’t lift my legs and it was all I could do to get over the finish line. I was, however, delighted to run close to my pb of 2.14 and take the Bronze medal. I maybe hadn’t run the most sensible race, but I had left it all on the track and committed fully to the race. I was happy with how I had run.

Zoe’s parents saw her take 1500m silver behind Kelly Neely in the World Masters Champs

For the 1500m I was in much better shape, largely because of the training I had done. In the heat fellow GB athlete Louise Rudd made sure we ran at a decent pace. Again it was first two to get through and ten fastest losers. What that meant in order to guarantee getting through to the final was that we couldn’t afford to run slower than 4.50. Kelly Neely was also in our heat, already a double world champion and an international Irish Athlete. In context, she had already won the 800m and had posted the fastest time for the 1500m. In the race, I tucked in behind Kelly and Louise then with 100m to go I sprinted past Louise to get the second automatic spot to the final in a time of 4.46. The next morning was the 1500m final and my parents had flown out to watch me. It was the first time they had watched me since I won the County Champs in Newcastle when I was twelve. I ran a more sensible race. We all ran in a close pack at a good pace but I knew I would have enough to kick hard in the last 100m. Three of us made the break with 200m to go and in the last 50m I was the strongest of the three overtaking the Kenyan. Staying strong, I came home in Silver medal position, just behind (three tenths of a second) Kelly Neely in close to my pb 4.36. I am absolutely delighted to have run so well and to bring another two international medals home.

ashmei run team’s Zoe Doyle with her two World Masters medals

Looking forward, the next four months are going to be relatively easy training, taking in some club races on the roads and cross country. The real focus for me is going to be the indoor and outdoor track seasons in 2019. My next Championships are the World Indoors in Torun, Poland in March and the European Outdoors in Italy in September. My aim is to get a bit faster yet for next season, so watch this space for updates.


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