Sunderland Harrier Bev Martin has been looking back on her athletics career that saw her aspire to be one of the North’s leading 800m runners with many outstanding performances. Her best result came when she took on four times Olympian and 1990 Commonwealth 800m champion, Diane Modahl, in the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix.
Now aged 46 she said: “It was my last 800m of 1998. It was a BMC race at Solihull against Diane Modahl. I knew she was aiming to go through 400 in a split that would have been way too quick for me. I decided to stay off the pace a little, but managed to finish strongly in second place and I took a big chunk off my previous best.’’ She recorded a club record that still stands to this day with a 2:05.32 clocking with Modahl finishing first with 2:01.93.
Martin had recorded 2:06.5 that year and 2:08.9 in 2001 to win two Northern titles. She was also a good 1500m runner with a best of 4:28.56 and she also recorded 4:55.32 for the one mile at Hexham. “I had a really good year on the track in 1998, where everything fell into place after a great winter of training with Richie Tough and his group at Silksworth. I stupidly drifted away from that group and was never able to build on that year."
“That, and lots of injuries and niggles made me disillusioned, so I drifted away from the track and the club for seven years and began to compete in some fell and adventure races. I've always turned back to running but I have never managed to give it a proper go again, until now.’’
It was then that she got more involved with her second sport, cycling. “I enjoy cycling and think it's a good supplement to running, especially now I'm a little older, but even when I was competing in cyclo cross I was still a runner at heart."
“I joined the Harriers in the late 80's when I was at Bede School. We had a school sports day at the Silksworth track and the Harriers club secretary, Les Arnott, was there and asked if I'd ever thought about joining the club. In those days there were tiny fields in the Harrier Leagues. I was amazed to turn up at Wrekenton a couple of years ago and see the hundreds of women competing".
“I've just started training again regularly from the end of last year and have clocked up a whopping 60 miles in January and have been running four times a week. Looking back, it is the most I've managed in a month for over 10 years at least! Here's hoping it's the start of some consistency.
“Since the late 90's I've always wanted to do a half marathon in Chamonix that is part of the Marathon du Mont Blanc weekend in June. I had an entry accepted and while I'm not certain the race will go ahead it's given me a proper kick up the bum to get some consistency going.’’
After stepping back on the track at Silksworth for the first time in 20 plus years before lockdown and doing some training sessions she would quite like to give the track a go again and to see what happens. She had forgotten how much she loved training on a track and feels there's a bit of unfinished business there.
“It seems like there's a really good veterans scene so I'd love to keep myself in shape to give the vets track leagues a go and see what I can do.’’
She also still holds club records that she set as an Under-17 from 1990, they are 200m 25.3 and 300m 40.8. “It's fantastic to see that they've lasted so long but I'd love to see a youngster come along and break them’’
As a novice cross country runner she finished a surprising second to Morag McDonell in the North Eastern Senior Championships. She added: “I don't remember the year but I was still running 800’s and wasn't a cross country fan at all but managed to come second in a proper mudfest’’