RUTH Barnes has realised a sporting ambition after being awarded her first England international vest, WRITES KEVIN FAHEY.

At the tender age of 39, Barnes, a member of Avon Valley Runners, has been selected for a five-strong England team to compete in the Granollers half marathon, in Spain, on February 4.

“At 39 I thought I had almost left it too late, it is a miracle!” she said. “I never, ever expected this. I hadn’t sent an email or request to be picked for England so it came totally out of the blue.

“It is just so lovely to get this recognition and reward for all the years of hard work and training, day in, day out.”

Barnes’ selection followed her sixth place in the Simplyhealth Great South Run 10 in Portsmouth, which also incorporated the England Championships.

That re-enforced her fine win in the Bath half at the start of the year when she smashed her personal best with a time of 75mins 32secs.

“The win in Bath was one of those that made me feel like it was all worthwhile but there have been times this year when I have started to wonder why I bother,” added Barnes.

“It was becoming a lot of effort for not much really, but this is the first time I feel I have achieved something really worthwhile.

“It has given me my one big moment and I will get that England vest and make sure I take some photos so that even if it never happens again I have done it once and that is wonderful.

“I am so happy.”