Women's History Month - Lt Chelsea Baker

Storyline: Athletics

Lt Chelsea Baker has risen from recreational runner to history maker for the Royal Navy in just five years.

Chelsea began running for fun and fitness whilst at the Britannia Royal Naval College as an officer cadet, and until recently her focus has predominantly been more recreational and ultra-endurance focussed.

In April 2020, she was encouraged to train with a dedicated endurance coach, Graeme Riley, (ex Royal Navy Lt Cdr) and with his guidance she began to see her performance improve under a more structured programme and reap the benefits of being immersed in a group of equally committed athletes.

Covid-19, working from home, and various personnel trawls drew her away from a single location meaning that Graeme’s invaluable coaching input was frequently remote, and she had to train alone. Chelsea’s dedication and determination ensured that she was able to maintain the momentum driving her improvement as an athlete despite the challenges her situation presented.

Chelsea credits supportive line management during her recent assignments for facilitating the next step-up she was able to make in performance – carving over 15 minutes off her marathon best to break the fabled three-hour barrier during this time.

Chelsea’s meteoric rise continued in 2022 and she established herself as a regular on the UK Armed Forces running team – frequently being the sole Royal Navy representative. She began to win top quality races at home and overseas, most notably the Wrexham Elite Marathon (2.46) and the prestigious Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC (2.42).

With a focus towards the Inter-Service marathon Championships at the London Marathon in 2023, Chelsea has set her sights on being crowned Inter-Services champion and achieving the England selection standard.

Part of her preparation was the Inter-Service Cross Championships in February 2023. Females were only permitted to race in this event in 1981 and the Royal Navy have never had a winner. 

As the race unfolded it became apparent that Chelsea had timed and tapered her training to perfection. On the second lap she eased away from the Army and RAF contingent and pressed on to victory. The first Royal Navy female winner, a record that is now set in history and with continued dedication and support for her training, we hope is repeated.

Chelsea was selected for both the UK Armed Forces and a Midland Counties team studded with Great Britain internationals at the Trafford 10k. Recognising the significant opportunity her selection at this level offered, UKAF team manager, Jock Castle, graciously stepped aside and encouraged Chelsea to run on the Midlands team this time!

Chelsea is hoping to run well in the London Marathon and smash the England selection time criteria and then gain selection to represent at National level.

In just five years, Chelsea has removed 30 minutes from her marathon time and has transitioned from a recreational runner to elite status. An exceptional achievement whilst carving out a career in the Royal Navy.