Club runner Julie Bass got to do what many of us can only dream of when she represented her country on the international stage.
Pulling on the England vest was the fulfilment of a lifelong wish for the Stilton Strider as she lined up for the England Masters 10k, in Birmingham.
Julie qualified to race against a Celtic Nations squad after clocking the second-fastest time nationally in her age group.
With her proud husband Mel watching on among the spectators, the 60-year-old clocked 48min 13secs to finish mid-field in the women’s vet 60 category.
“I usually run about 46mins so I was hoping to run two or three minutes quicker,” she said.
“But it was the first time the phrase ‘it’s not the winning, but the taking part’ has ever made sense to me.
“The hard work was qualifying. Once there you can only do what you can do.”
The Melton grandmother had cut out the long runs in the build-up for Birmingham, instead opting for shorter ‘sprints’ to specialise for the 10km distance.
Yet as she discovered, it was impossible to train for the occasion itself.
Realising your dream can be a daunting experience.
“I was more than happy with my preparation and my times, but then I got there and I think the occasion got to me in the end,” she explained.
“It didn’t dawn on me until I was there that I was actually running for England.
“You walk up and see Paul Evans (Olympic 10,000m finalist) dishing out the numbers and you think what am I doing here?”
Yet Julie, whose times from 30 years ago still rank her among the quickest-ever female Striders, is keen for a second chance and may soon be plotting her way through more qualifiers.
“I really enjoyed it and would certainly do it again,” she added.
“When I got dressed that morning and put on the England vest it was brilliant.
“I had wanted to do that since I was a child.”
Having taken a long break from running to have a family, the former hurdling champion is in great form once again.
Last Sunday she chalked up her fourth Vet 60 win of the season in the Leicestershire Road Race League which should be enough to give her the overall county Winter/Spring Series title for her age group.
“The international event mattered so much to me and they made a really big thing out of it,” Julie said.
“I think they are recognising that older people are running at quite a decent standard.”