MUM-OF-TWO Samantha Amend is chasing a place at next year’s Commonwealth Games – after another record-busting performance last Sunday catapulted her up to 11th in the UK women’s marathon standings.

The 30-year-old from High Wycombe won the Abingdon Ladies Marathon in a time of two hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds and is now seven minutes away from the Commonwealth Games qualification standard only 18 months after having her second child, Spencer.

And the Handy Cross Runner believes she can go even faster as she closes in on her dream of representing England at the 2010 Games in New Delhi next year.

She broke the Abingdon course record, set in 1995, by more than four minutes last Sunday – less than three weeks after the devastating unexpected death of her husband James.

She said: “I am running with a lot of anger at the moment and I am also emotionally and physically very tired. I believe I can go even faster with more sleep and a scheduled training programme incorporating more speed and endurance work.

“I’m running with all sorts of emotions at the moment but it’s running that’s keeping me going.”

Amend, who only took up the sport four years ago, is now determined to give it everything in her bid to reach New Delhi.

Her time at Abingdon was 15 minutes faster than her winning time at the race a year earlier and if she continues to make progress like that her dream could well become a reality.

She said: “It would be unreal to qualify for the Commonwealth Game. I never thought this would be possible but now I am getting close, I really want it.”

Her winning performance at Abingdon, where she finished seven minutes clear of the second lady, gave her a hat-trick of course records recently following on from her victories in the Wooburn Park 10K and the Medmenham 10 mile races.

And her form has brought her to the attention of England Athletics, who are now watching her rapid progress with growing interest.

Two years ago, completing a marathon in under three hours looked a distant dream but now she’s knocking down targets for fun.

She ran the last London in 2:49:55 and as well as being ranked 11th in the UK over that distance she is in the top ten over 20 miles.

She said: “I am very hard on myself. Second or third isn’t good enough for me. I want to win and I want keep on improving.”

The full-time IT support account manager is now tailoring her training in a more professional manner, cutting down her mileage and concentrating more on speed and racing – but she is still getting through a pair of running shoes every eight weeks as she pounds the pavements for two hours every morning.

She said: “I know that I have got a talent and I want to make the best of it.”

Sponsors wanting to back her Commonwealth dream should contact her on 07764 655810.

AMEND’S next race is on Sunday when she tackles the Marlow Half Marathon which starts and finishes at the Riley Road Recreation Ground, beginning at 9.30am.

The event is organised by the Marlow Striders. Runners who have entered must collect their race numbers and chips on the day because of the postal strike.

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