Porto Half Marathon
Grantham Running Club athletes Catherine Payne and Robert McArdle joined a strong field for the 10th Meia Maratona in Portugal’s second city, this is one of the last major half marathons of the year. The route along both banks of the Douro crosses the iconic Maria Pia Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel, twice and goes through the Ribeira tunnel. On an unseasonably hot day, even for Southern Europe, the course was at its most challenging with Uganda’s Daniel Rotich winning in just under 61 minutes with the next five men all representing Kenya also well down on their usual times. In the ladies race the shock winner was Nao Isaka from Japan in 72:12 relegating world number one Martha Akeno to the runner’s up prize in a time three minutes slower than expected. Having missed the last three weeks of training due to an ankle injury GRC’s Catherine Payne started the race in more hope than expectation with everything going well for almost five miles before tearing a calf muscle on a sharp cobbled uphill section causing her to stop and try and walk it off. After a couple of minutes she re-joined the race determined to finish even though she knew it would exacerbate the injury and put her out for weeks. With her running now compromised she dropped down the field but still managed to limp home in a gun time of 1:39:40 which was still fast enough on that day to win first prize in the Veteranas IV category. Further back in the field teammate Robert McArdle was once again struggling to run through the heat, as the temperature rose above 40C on the exposed course the only option was to slow down to avoid overheating but despite that his time of 1:43:13 was respectable considering the state of the cobbled section of the run and the overcrowding on route.
(Photos Catherine Payne, winner Veteranas IV category and Robert McArdle at the finish)