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Helpston Harrier John Herbert selected to run in England Masters cross-country team at Five Nations Championship

Bourne athlete John Herbert will be running in his mum’s memory after dedicating his selection for a coveted place in the England Masters cross-country team.

The Helpston Harrier has been selected for the Five Nations event which takes place in Aintree, near Liverpool, next month.

He will be representing his country in the annual event against Scotland, Wales and both Northern and Southern Ireland.

John Herbert. (19534485)
John Herbert. (19534485)

Herbert has been chosen for the veterans 45 category despite being at the top end of his age group and is relishing his unexpected appearance in an England vest after the death of his mum, Patricia Neill, this year.

He said: “I started back running again this year after being out of the sport for seven years so didn’t really think that I would put myself forward for selection.

“The age category that I race in is vet 45 which is ages 45-49 years. When you turn 50 you then go up into the next category.

“I’m 49-years-old and, come the race in Aintree, it will be only three weeks off my 50th birthday so I’m at top end of age group.

“My times started to improve in April when I raced in the Lincoln 10k and then two weeks later I won the Bourne Run in the Woods.

“From then on I have got quicker and quicker and I’m currently in the top 10 for 5k and 10k for my age group in the country so I thought that I would try to get selected.

“It became more important to me in June as my mum, who had been having treatment for skin cancer, had a severe seizure with a bleed on the brain.

“They said it was terminal and that she would probably only have about six months to live.

“I told her I would get selected for England for her and hoped she would still be here to see it. She deteriorated quickly but, in her last week, I said I would get the England vest for her and that is the last time she smiled for me. Sadly she passed away on August 9 so didn’t see me get the vest.

“I was so pleased to get picked but so sad my mum won’t see it as Liverpool is one of her favourite places.”

Herbert has continued his fine form leading up to the event in Liverpool which is for veteran runners from 35-years upwards in five-year categories, both male and female.

He finished third in a 5k at Ferry Meadows after posting a time of 15.44 before triumphing in the Thorney 5k in 25.53 which was the fastest vets 45 time in the country this year.

Herbert was also victorious in a qualifying race in Caterham and won the Thurlby 10k in July.

His submitted selection form for the Five Nations event got the approval of the committee who pick the best six runners to represent England on November 16. It is a team event but there are also medals for individuals.

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