A CONTESTANT for the World Masters Championship says coaching has helped him run faster than five years ago.

Darren Towart, 45, lives in Ponteland and works in IT installing systems and cabling infrastructure.

He is part of the running club Tynedale Harriers.

Darren is now in Toruń, Poland, where the Championship will begin on Sunday, March 26 and continue until April 2.

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He broke the previous World Record in 400m by two seconds, won Gold in 400m and Silver in the Scottish Masters Championship, plus two Silvers in 400m and 200m at the Irish Masters Championship.

In the Polish Championship, he will do 400m, 800m, 200m, 60m hurdles and hopes to make the relay squad.

Darren began coaching 14-year-old long-distance rower Jacob Lloyd in January, to help Jacob enjoy running more and support his rowing training.

Jacob, from Hexham, has qualified for the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta and will compete in Nottingham in April representing the Northern region.

He will also attend the National Schools’ Regatta in May at Dorney Lake and the British Championships in July.

The pair train together on long distances.

“I want to train him to help his rowing abilities. Over the last few months, his rowing coaches have noticed a massive improvement in his confidence, ability and fitness. He’s doing rowing competitions and meeting people in higher age groups,” Darren said.

“The plan during the summer is we’re going to find different open events. We’ve got the Northeast Championships and try get him out there racing and build his confidence up.”

Darren explained he used to be a professional rugby player.

“I was 21 stone and an international rugby player. I went through a divorce and the kids wanted to get into running, so I took them along.”

Darren got involved in running in Hexham several years ago and hasn’t looked back.

He is coached by Richard Kilty of Team Great Britain, who is a Commonwealth Games winner, a World Indoor Champion and a European Indoor Champion.

“He is absolutely amazing, he has so much knowledge. I train alongside him, and I train Jacob. Jacob’s pushing me faster and everything’s coming into play quite nicely.

“It’s a privilege to be coached by Richard and it’s a privilege to coach Jacob.

"Since all that's happened, I've been running just short of my personal best from five years ago. I'm hoping to go to the next level in Poland and run the fastest I ever have done in athletics in eight years."