‘I am fantastically happy’ – Suffolk athlete Davies after her silver medal at World 50K Champs
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk star, Helen Davies, scooped a wonderful silver medal at the IAU 50K World Championships, held at Brasov in Romania yesterday.
Davies marked her debut appearance in Ultra running by finishing second behind Great Britain team-mate Alyson Dixon, both women breaking the British record and securing team gold medals in the process, alongside team-mate Julie Briscoe.
Ipswich JAFFA stalwart Davies clocked 3hrs 09mins 16secs, finishing just under two minutes behind Dixon (3:07:20) and six minutes clear of third-placed Alicia Perez, of Spain (3:15:09.
"It went really well, and I am fantastically happy to be a silver medallist at a World Championships and to be world champions as a team," enthused Davies.
"It vastly exceeded my expectations, because I didn't really know where I would be in the pecking order, before the event.
"I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself, by studying the rest of the field.
"I just wanted to execute my plan, although I was really surprised to be up there in second place. I didn't want to get too excited, or start changing anything.
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"In the end I was less than two minutes behind Aly, and six minutes ahead of the third-placed runner.
"My plan was to get to 26 miles like I would the 20-mile mark in a marathon. I aimed to do six-minute mile-ing for the first 26 miles, and then try and sustain that pace and see what happened.
"The first mile was quick, being a little downhill, and with all the exuberance that comes with setting off in a race.
"Me and Aly were soon away together. We went through the first mile in 5:50, and she told me that her plan was to run 6:05 until the marathon distance and then try and pick up the pace, which was different to me.
"However, we got to the first drinks station at the 5K mark and she suddenly went off.
"It was far too early for me to change my race plan, so she soon built up a distance on me, although that gap did not end up changing for the rest of the race.
"We were at virtually the same place whenever we crossed each other on each lap.
"I wasn't prepared to gamble so early in the race, and judging by how I felt on the final lap, I think I made the right decision. I felt that I paced it just right.
"I was on the edge, during the final lap, so it might have fallen apart if I had pushed on earlier, after that first 5K.
"After that initial 5K lap, there were five longer laps of 9K. The route climbed gradually on the way out and then dropped down a little on the way back, so I was always glad to get to that turnaround each time.
"The heat was also building. It was about 25 degrees by the finish. The course was in shade because of the high buildings until two laps to gone when the sun rose above the buildings and suddenly the shade was gone.
"It felt like the sun was beating down on us," added Davies.
Before taking a break from competitive racing, to start a family, Davies had run big championship marathons at the European Championships (in Barcelona) and the Commonwealth Games (in Delhi), both in 2010, and also setting a swift 2:34:11 at the London Marathon in 2012.
She marked her return to marathon running by winning the Brighton Marathon in 2017, and she completed a hat-trick of wins in 2018 and this year, setting a new PB of 2:34:06.
As to the future, Davies sees big potential both in the marathon and on the Ultra scene.
"It has certainly whetted my appetite, running in my first Ultra," continued Davies.
"It was a different distance for me, and I didn't know what to expect. In fact, I'm shocked by how well it went. Both Aly and I broke the British record, which had stood at 3:15, with Aly now the British record holder, and she is also unofficially the world record holder.
"I was only 30 seconds off that old world record (3:08:30) myself, and I'm staggered by that fact, which is why I'm so excited about what I might be capable of.
"I'm certainly not going to give up on marathons, but it's good to have another discipline now, and Ultra running is a sport that British Athletics are supporting as well.
"They were certainly vindicated over the weekend, with a women's team gold, plus a gold and silver individual medal, and bronze medals in the men's team and individual.
"It will be interesting to see how I recover. My legs don't feel quite so bad as after a marathon, because the pace was a little kinder, although I do generally feel more drained and more exhausted.
"Looking ahead, I definitely want to run the London Marathon next April, knowing that I could be competitive on the elite start.
"But I'd also like to run the Valencia Marathon this December. I wanted a good course and good conditions to try and get a time that represents my fitness, rather than at Brighton last April when the conditions weren't so kind," added Davies.