THE sight of Amber Gascoigne racing on West Country soil has been one of the big stories in the local athletics world this winter.
Victory in the Tri-Counties Cross Country Championships at Bath University and then third place overall in the South West Inter-Counties Championships at RNAS Merryfield, Ilton, Somerset, was a timely reminder of just what a talented athlete Gascoigne was – and clearly still is.
Older readers will remember Gascoigne as a young member of Wells City Harriers, coached by the late Clive Thomas, winning an English Schools’ title, collecting national medals and earning a GB vest as a junior. She was one of the best of her generation.
A move to Loughborough University promised much but injuries and life in general got in the way and she struggled to match that junior success in senior athletics.
“Then with getting a normal job I just didn’t have the time to train like I used to before and that was hard,” said Gascoigne.
Fast forward to the current day and Gascoigne, now aged 42, is racing for Team Bath AC whom she joined last summer after moving back to the West Country for a teaching job in Warminster after a long spell living in Reading.
“I was probably a bit reluctant at first (to join Team Bath) but now training once a week at the University with a group (led by coach Paul King) has made such a difference,” revealed Gascoigne.
“I had not done any proper sessions for ten years so it was a shock to the system! But it is a very friendly group and I have really enjoyed training with them.”
Encouraged to race the Tri-Counties at the University Gascoigne showed that while form is temporary class is permanent as she claimed a very popular victory.
That prompted her to make the step up to the South West Inter Counties and there she dug in and battled tenaciously against a stronger field to be rewarded with third place overall and top veteran runner behind North Somerset AC’s Ellie Wallace and junior Rose Hamilton-James of Westbury Harriers (pictured right).
“I’m completely out of the loop these days (with who are the top women) so last Sunday was a complete shock,” added Gascoigne.
“I actually got to the course late so had to use the first lap to take a look at the course and then on the second lap I moved through the field and when I found out I had come third I was pretty surprised.
“Obviously I’m not competing at the same level as before but I am enjoying my running.”
It is great to see her back doing so well.