Friday, 17 June 2016

2016 Summer Solstice 10k Road Race Report

Grantham Running Club's flagship event, the Summer Solstice 10k, took place on the evening of Friday 17th June along the quiet, gently undulating lanes round Long Bennington. Now in its 7th year the prestigious race attracted 1,000 entrants to make it the largest club run race in Lincolnshire beating the 2015 total by over 200 finishers despite inclement weather. The intermittent rain certainly didn't dampen the spirts in the sell-out event which attracted a near who's who of the most talented local athletes. With a new start time of 7:30pm to accommodate the crowds and an enlarged race village there were more spectators that ever before especially along the finishing straight. The event has established itself a reputation for not just being a fast 10k race but an evening to remember for runners and supporters. Finishers are rewarded with the Solstice Ale which was provided by the award winning Grantham brewery Brewsters with Sara and her team producing a specially commissioned Golden Ale for each runner as well as a commemorative glass. They could take advantage of free pre and post-race massage, courtesy of David McKee. The local pre-school provided tea, coffee and homemade cakes, a  bar served locally brewed ales and cider to wash down the hot food on offer at Hank's Burger Bar, while children enjoyed the bouncy castle brought to the event when they had finished cheering home the last of the runners.

From the off Aaron Scott from Stamford AC, with 2015 Solstice winner Shane Robinson and James Straw - both of Lincoln Wellington AC, proved they were the class of the field, distancing themselves from Adam Holland of Notfast RC and the remainder of the runners. Aaron pulled clear of the Lincoln Wellington pair to win, just two seconds outside the course record, in a superb 31:32. Shane Robinson (31:56) was second and James Straw (32:18) was third. In the women's race, Philippa Taylor also from Stamford, who is one of the very best runners in her age category in the country, once again put on a great demonstration of road racing to win by over a minute in 37:50 from Rebecca Gallop, second in 39:05, and Sophie Darling of Lincoln Wellington, third in 39:24. As well as now attracting many of the best runners in the area, the race has grown to be popular for runners of all abilities, from seasoned club runners to those having recently taking up the sport - the finishing of the race a culmination of many months of training. 

Despite having more than fifty of their members marshalling the course Grantham Running Club's runners made their contribution with Matthew Kingston-Lee became the first GRC runner home in 14th place in a time of 35 minutes and.27 seconds, just edging out Chris Limmer who recorded a personal best of 35.35, almost a minute quicker than his previous best. Ben Hodgkin followed up from his excellent performance recently at the Woodhall Spa 10k with another fine run to finish in 34th place with a time of 37.58. The second great battle to the line saw Chris Armstrong (39.43) just nudging ahead of Scott Jones (39.45).  This was Chris's fastest time in 18 years and for Scott it was not only a personal best time but also the first time that he has crept below the sought after 40 minutes' mark.
Other notable performances saw father and son, Adrian and Nathan Walker, run their first 10k's in creditable times of 49.07 and 43.06 respectively.  Daniel Howson completed the course in 46.41 which was 4 minutes quicker than his previous best; and Tim Hodges recorded a PB of 59.40 taking almost nine mutes off his previous mark. The first GRC lady home was the ever consistent Holly Durham in 42.04.  Suzanne Britz ran incredibly well to beat her 3 year personal best by nearly 5 minutes to record 52.00.
A special mention needs to go to all the first timers and graduates of the 10 weeks to 10k course who all did themselves proud.
Grantham Running Club's positions and times:

14        Matthew KINGSTON-LEE   35:27 
15        Christopher LIMMER            35:35 PB
34        Ben HODGKIN                     37:58 
65        Christopher ARMSTRONG   39:43
68        Scott JONES                         39:45 PB
113      Holly DURHAM                    42:04 
134      Nathan WALKER                  43:06 First timer
143      Thomas WILLIAMSON        43:34 
218      Daniel HOWSON                   46:41 PB
273      Warren STARK                      48:02 
305      Adrian WALKER                  49:07 First timer
313      Charnia KIRK                        49:28 First timer
342      Sinead MCDONNELL          50:18
365      Paul DURHAM                      50:55 
406      Martin CARTER                    51:54 
409      Suzanne BRITZ                      52:00 PB
494      Hazel DUNTHORNE            54:10 PB
577      Michelle ALLBONES            57:30 First timer
629      Timothy HODGES                 59:40 PB
678      Sara PASK                              1:02:08 First timer
714      Chris ENGLAND                   1:04:00 
715      Lisa SHARP                           1:03:57

"The event has continued to grow in numbers and stature. We offer exceptional value for money for a fantastic race!" commented Race Director Gordon Geach after the race. "I was backed up by an amazing team, some of whom booked annual leave to help set-up over the day. The race could not take place without the support of volunteers who marshal the race and ensure that everything runs smoothly."  With the 2016 Summer Solstice declared a resounding success, plans are already underway for next year's event, which is set to take place on Friday 16th June 2017.

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