OLIVE PRESS writer Cristina Hodgson switched out reporting for racing last weekend – with incredible results. 

The 46-year-old expat, who celebrates her birthday today, took home two bronze medals at the Andalucia Championship in Malaga, coming third in both the 1500m and 800m masters race. 

Despite hanging up her running shoes three years ago, Cristina was persuaded to compete by supportive friends and family in Cordoba where she lives. 

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Mum-of-two Cristina told the Olive Press: “My kids told me not to bother coming home without a medal! So I was happy to be able to bring back two for them.” 

Even more impressively, Cristina barely trained for the race- but says the victory has reignited her passion for competing.

“I have been running forever but stopped racing competitively three years ago and only took running up again after lockdown last year,” said Cristina, originally from Wimbledon. 

“But it was great to be back on the race track with everybody, even if it was a little strange there were no spectators because of the pandemic.” 

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In fact, due to COVID-19 measures, the races were split into two groups to reduce the number of racers on the track and  Cristina ended up racing towards the finish line alone. 

“I watched the faster group race and I was determined to beat their time,” she explained. “When I raced with my group I actually felt great, I was sure I had beaten everyone! I was basically running solo, so it was hard to judge my speed without anyone by my side.”

The race between the two groups was so close Cristina actually missed out on gold in both races by less than a second. She completed the 800m was 2minutes 37 second and  the 500m in 5 minutes 21 seconds less than half a second behind the gold medalist who scraped a win at 5minutes 20.1 seconds. 

While ‘gutted’ at how close she was to gold, Cristina said the narrow race has given her fuel. 

“I am very competitive,” she said. “Now I have qualified for the National Championships in Malaga at the end of June so I would have to really train hard over the next six weeks. Who knows what could happen!” 

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