With a veritable army of Grantham Running Club members storming around Belvoir Castle at the Equinox 24 Hour Race, it was left to a smaller band of merry GRC men and women to conquer the Robin Hood Marathon and Half Marathon, which was taking place in Nottingham on Sunday 24th September.
Retaining its title as host of the British Athletics Half Marathon Championships, the 13.1 mile race saw over 6100 finishers on a beautiful early autumn morning, which brought out great crowd support along the twisting, undulating course, beginning and ending on Victoria Embankment, and taking in such sights as the castle and Wollaton Hall and Deer Park.
First home for Grantham Running Club was Matthew Kingston-Lee, who clocked a season's best 1:16:43. This earned him an impressive twelfth position overall and was the second V40 finisher. He may yet be declared the winner of this age category as the fastest veteran runner finished third overall. Matthew was generally pleased with the way the race unfolded, but was left a bit frustrated that the first of the winter colds caught midweek had left him feeling a little sub-par.
Next home was Julie Braker, who was making her race debut in a GRC vest. Julie ran superbly to clock 1:51:05, which saw her finish second in the V65 age category, albeit with a faster chip time than the age category winner, as positions are determined by gun position. Her performance earned an age grade of 87.71%, which is an outright club record over any race distance, excluding parkruns. Husband Robert, also made his debut for the club, breaking two hours with a fine 1:57:41.
Adrian Walker was competing in his second ever half marathon with wife CJ, who was making her debut over the distance. They were raising funds for the Hopewood specialist unit in Nottingham in memory of their son Nathan. Adrian finished in a highly creditable 1:51:44, and CJ completed the race in 3:14:14. CJ joked afterwards that she hadn't been in such pain since giving birth, but thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, especially being hosed down by the supporting firemen when the temperatures warmed up!
Stuart Baty was the first of eight GRC runners making their half marathon debut at Nottingham, many of whom had committed to run the race before they actually became members of the club. He ran excellently to finish in 1:54:21. All with equally commendable efforts, Gav Skinner followed in 2:09:22 ahead of Lucinda Gamble, who had completed the multi-terrain New Forest Half Marathon on September 9th, finishing her first road half marathon in 2:22:10. Hayley Stafffollowed soon behind in 2:22:56; Julia Hallam came home in 2:33:38; Claire Fritz ran 2:39:15; and Chloe Amos finished in 2:51:28.
Taking part in the full marathon on a course renowned for its toughness, Neil Emerson ran a fine race to finish in 4:28:03, claiming a praiseworthy 13th in the M55 age category
The half marathon was won by Chris Thompson of Aldershot, Farnham and District AC in 1:04:58. The winner of the women's race was Emily Waugh of Rugby & Northampton AC in 1:18:01. The marathon was won by Giles Harris of Anster Haddies RC with a gun time of 2:28:09. The winner of the women's marathon was Sonka Reimers in 2:55:00.