Experienced runner Julie Bass is set to fulfil a life-long ambition next year after earning the right to run for her country.
The Melton grandmother will pull on an England vest and race against a Celtic Nations squad at the England Masters 10k in Birmingham next May.
Julie earned her place in the veterans team after hitting the qualifying mark with the second-quickest time in her 55 to 59 age category.
“It’s just amazing; it’s a childhood dream,” she said.
“I used to run for Leicester Coritanians as a hurdler and everyone wanted to be in the Olympics.
“Running in an England vest means an awful lot to me.”
Having recently hit a landmark birthday, she has been shifted into the vet 60 women’s team for her international debut.
But the Stilton Strider hopes this will give her the edge as one of the youngest competitors in her age group.
“I’m hoping to do quite well,” she said.
“But most of all I want to enjoy it because you know what these big races are like; it’s difficult to do a target time with so many other runners around.
“I’m still running at a reasonable standard, although the older you get, the more ‘wow, you;re still running’ you hear!
“Strangely, I’m doing slower times than years ago, but now getting more accolades.”
The day will have added poignancy following the death of her long-time running partner and friend Jane Bishop.
While continuing to pound the streets, Julie left club running in 2000 to have her children Matt and Emma - both national bowls champions - but was moved to rejoin the Stilton Striders in 2016.
“When Jane died a couple of years ago I thought, she can’t do it anymore and I can so I’m going to give it another go,” Julie explained.
While the years have inevitably taken away a little of a highly respectable pace – much to her frustration – Julie has kept all of her passion for the sport and is still pulling out the results and the times.
Last month she was first over 60s runner across the line at the Dubai Half-Marathon, continuing her habit of seeking out a race whenever the family jet off for a break.
“Wherever we go on holiday I will always find a race,” Julie added.
“In Dubai we started at six in the morning and it should have been about 24 degrees, but we ended up running in temperatures between 29 and 31 degrees.
“It was fine until we had to go through a tunnel where there was no air conditioning so I couldn’t breathe.
“I was on course for a 1hr 40, but the humidity got to me.”
Julie and Jane still hold several club records for the Striders, whom she first joined in 1986, with times which haven’t been topped in 30 years.
One of her proudest achievements on the road came when she won Melton’s now-defunct Bellshire Half-Marathon in 1987, while she also has a couple of winner’s medals from the Whissendine 6ix.
Now she has hereditary osteoporosis, as well as asthma, but rather than forcing her to wind down, doctors insist the disease, which affects the bones and increases the risk of fractures, will be kept in check by running.
“I‘ve run all of my life and got my first certificate when I was three,” Julie added.
“I love it, I dread it if I’m injured or ill. It is what I am. We don’t run, we are runners.”