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Lymington super athlete Valeria Sesto recalled to England squad

LYMINGTON-based athlete Valeria Sesto has been reselected by England Athletics to be part of the Women's English Team for ultra-distance road running.

With the vast majority of running races cancelled over the last 12 months, team members will need to prove their fitness to selectors by completing a long-distance race under a required time.

Experienced ultra runner Sesto, who won the 2020 New Forest Marathon, will attempt to cement her place in the squad by running a 40-mile race under five hours and 15 minutes.

Valeria Sesto on the way to victory during the International Changan Ford 100k in China in 2019
Valeria Sesto on the way to victory during the International Changan Ford 100k in China in 2019

She could have chosen to complete a marathon under two hours and 58 minutes, or 100k under eight hours and 15 minutes.

Sesto's main job is as an endurance coach, but she also works at Walhampton and Southlands schools, the latter a school for high-functioning autistic children.

She started running in 2007 after giving birth to her second child and quickly excelled. Before long, she qualified for the elite start at the London Marathon, the highlight of which was finishing just two places behind world record holder Paula Ratcliffe.

Sesto is also a multiple winner of the cross country RR10 League and Hampshire and South of England team member for cross country and other distances.

Since taking up ultra-long distance races, Sesto has won 100km races in Argentina and China and finished 17th at the 2018 IAU World 100k Championships in eight hours and four minutes. She was also the English National Champion for 50k in 2015, in three hours and 36 minutes.

Sesto, who is originally from Argentina, said: "Since the England Athletics team selection, my motivation has raised and I have restarted a very focused training plan, with the company of some of the local runners, all of whom I coach and have coached for years.

"When lockdown eased last autumn, I was also lucky to run the New Forest Marathon and two other ultras, which gave me enough points to qualify for Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)."

The UTMB takes place annually on either the last weekend in August or the first weekend of September in the Alps. It follows the Tour du Mont Blanc route through France, Italy, and Switzerland and is widely regarded as one of the most challenging races in the world.

At this stage, it is uncertain whether Sesto will compete given the expense involved and the current circumstances surrounding the pandemic.


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