TWO years ago, Winsley mother Sandra Maslen took her first tentative steps as a runner in Central Park – now she returns this weekend to tackle the New York Half Marathon as a paid up club member, writes Kevin Fahey.

On that last trip to visit her brother in New York, Maslen had never run a step in her life and only managed 200 yards in the park before being forced to stop wheezing and out of breath.

Much has changed since then and this will be Maslen’s third half after her debut in Bristol last year and then a personal best in the recent Bath event.

“I have never been into sport and didn’t have any hobbies so when I turned 40 last year I decided it was time to do something,” said Maslen.

“I have been friends with Dave Coales at work (Rotork Controls in Bath) for a long time and he encouraged me to start running and join Team Bath AC.

“It does not come easy to me at all as I am not the fittest and at the start it felt very daunting.

“But I have stuck at it and I really enjoy it now and it makes me feel so much more positive about things.”

Maslen, who fits her training around looking after two young children aged 12 (Charlotte) and 10 (Toby), took just over nine minutes off her personal best when she ran 2hrs 02mins 28secs in the Bath half last week.

But in New York she won’t be worrying about her time – and a quick look at the course explains why.

Unlike the full New York marathon the half doesn't go out to the boroughs but stays in Manhattan.

“It's a spectacular route starting in Central Park, crossing Broadway, through Times Square, along 42nd Street with the finish being in Wall Street.

“I am going to New York to take in the scenery and the atmosphere so a fast time isn’t a priority for me at all,” added Maslen.

“I will be taking the race at my own leisurely pace.”

Also in the 15,000 strong field will be Great Britain’s double Olympic champion Mo Farah, who will be running anything but leisurely in his final warm-up for the London Marathon.