MONICA Williamson took part in the prestigious British and Irish Masters Cross Country International race for the sixth year in succession in Dublin on Saturday.
The Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club member gained selection for the event due to a series of outstanding performances earlier in the year after winning National track Masters Gold in the 5,000m and an age category win in the Midland Masters 10km road race.
The 6km course in Dublin was wet due to the recent heavy rain which gave athletes a test of stamina in the heavy conditions but Williamson ran a superb, well-judged race to claim an individual silver medal for the W55 category and the gold for the strong England W55 team.
Williamson started the first of three laps conservatively, lodging in behind three of her England team mates, then having gained a feel for the course and trusting in her recent period of hard training, she stepped up the pace and worked her way through the field.
The final lap proved particularly testing as the course had started to cut up giving the athletes some mud to work through and sapping the energy from their legs, but Williamson held on to her position to finish strongly in the time of 24:21.
Her immediate response was one of surprise and then delight as she realised her achievement. The overall winner was Ann Marie McGlynn (W35) of Ireland in the time of 20:57.
The well-designed course took in several twists and turns making it ideal for the spectators to follow the progress of the races and with the weather improving through the day some fiercely competitive racing could be watched.
Williamson will now ease back on her training before focusing on the BMAF National Cross Country championships in March.
Phil Gould, also of Leamington C & AC, was once again selected as a reserve for the highly competitive M35 category and made the journey across to Dublin, travelling on the morning of the event. He had an excellent run in the reserves Open race to finish a creditable second over the 6k course.