Updated: Nov 15
TWO veteran athletes from Hartlepool will be going for gold in Italy this week (Thursday, September 28).
Good friends Keith Hutchinson and Dave Heslop, funded by local charity the PFC Trust, are competing in the European Masters Athletics Championships at Pescara’s Adriatico Stadium, Italy.
Athletes from 39 European nations will take part with 437 from Great Britain and almost 400 from Spain and Germany alone. The two from Hartlepool are looking to continue their incredible progress, just six months since appearing on the world stage in March.
Burn Road Harriers athletes Keith and Dave will both wear the PFC Trust and Hartlepool Sport logos in Italy when they compete in the 800m and 10k road race respectively.
Dave, 44, who was the second Brit to finish and seventh in his age category at the world 10k, said: “This is the second time I will have competed for Team GB Masters. I feel well prepared for it because I’m in good form.
“I would love to get a medal, whether I’m in that kind of shape we will see because it will also depend on the shape of other athletes.
“This has been the biggest year so far for me as a runner. I used to run a lot as a kid, stopped for a long time and played football instead.
Dave Heslop in his Team GB vest supported by the PFC Trust.
“But when I did the Derby Half Marathon about six years ago for charity - after my wife had a miscarriage - I did it in a time of 1:24 with very little training. That was where it started and I began to take it more seriously.
“I’m now doing half marathons in 73 minutes 29 seconds and I came 53rd in the Great North Run 2021. I’ve had injuries along the way, but I have kept going and I can’t wait to compete in Italy.”
Dave will be in action on Thursday, September 28, and is staying in Pescara until Saturday to support British champion Keith, who is looking to build on his M40 race bronze in Poland on Thursday and, hopefully, Friday.
Keith, 43, who wants to be No 1 in the world for his age, said: “I’m feeling really positive. I’ve focused six months of training that my coaches have told me to do on this event.
“I’m not going out there to make the numbers up like I have in the past. I know I can mix it with the best out there because of my bronze earlier this year.
“I fancy my chances and I will be disappointed if I don’t make the final, but you never know until the day.
“It’s great to have Dave there too. He is a very good runner and is in great shape. It is special for us both to be going. I’m more nervous this time around because I have higher expectations, more pressure on myself.
PFC Trust founder Frances Connolly with Team GB athlete Keith Hutchinson. Picture: PFC Trust.
“I want to give Hartlepool Sport and the PFC Trust the best because of the support they have shown. I can’t thank Carl Jorgeson and Frances Connolly from the Trust enough for helping me. I wouldn’t have done this without them.”
This is the first time the PFC Trust and Hartlepool Sport have helped Dave with his travel costs for such a global event, having previously supported Keith along the way.
Dave said: “Honestly, I’m over the moon that the Trust have helped me - I don’t think I’d be going if it wasn’t for them.
“And it makes a massive difference going with Keith because it makes the trip fun as well as a competition. The Masters is a really friendly environment anyway, despite the high level of competition. I can’t wait to get going.”
From all at The PFC Trust, we wish Dave & Keith the best of luck for the race and will be cheering them on all the way.
*For further information about how the PFC Trust could help you or your organisation check out www.thepfctrust.org