Sunday, 28 October 2018

Locke Park 20Ten



Robert finishing strongly

Grantham Running Club’s Robert McArdle took part in this year’s rescheduled Locke Park 20 which was one of the many races to fall victim to the snows in March. This race was originally planned as a warm-up for the spring marathons so could not be staged in the weeks immediately following the postponement. For Robert this meant rather being a chance to prepare for a marathon it came less than three weeks after he ran the Chester Marathon so was going into it a bit more tired than was ideal.
This is a tough race in which the runners have to negotiate 20 one mile laps of the park, to make it tougher the new route has two 180 degree turns which makes the athletes come to a dead stop and have to accelerate up to speed again during every mile, this means it is impossible to get into any sort of rhythm and effectively the race is a 2½ hour effort session!
In contrast to the first attempt to stage the event the weather was pretty much ideal, the last rainclouds blew off from the North sea, the sun came out and although the temperature was just above freezing the coastal winds were light. The only slight hitch was a generous covering of leaves on the paths. The start was crowded as the twenty milers were joined by those only planning to do the first ten laps which made judging pace against those around you quite tricky, after a conservative first mile Robert found a space to run in for three laps before he started lapping slower runners, by five miles he was being lapped himself and having to juggle the lines to avoid getting trapped behind slower competitors as he got out of the way for the fast guys.
The medal with the original date
By the time he went through half marathon distance in around 1:42 the course was beginning to clear to the point where he was often running alone. Tiring (or losing motivation) he went through 15 miles at 1:58 and with legs still heavy from his recent marathon realised that the target time of sub 2:40 was going to less straightforward that expected. A dramatic drop in pace in miles 18 and 19 left him needing a big final lap and with the GPS watch unable to help on the tight twisting circuit and no one else in sight he had to gamble with speed judgement as he ramped up his efforts to claw back over 45 seconds in the last kilometre to finish in 2:39:25 which earned him a WMA score of 71:27% and 10th place in the race.
Robert was also a beneficiary of all those spring race cancellations with regard to his UKA Masters Ranking, a slightly fortuitous set of circumstances saw even this tired performance allow him the pick up a ranking in the high sixties which could easily see him end the year as the highest ranked male veteran (over 34 years old) in Grantham Running Club!

Worksop Halloween Half Marathon


Twenty eight members of Grantham Running Club made the journey up the A1 to take part in the 37th Worksop Halloween Half Marathon on Sunday 28th October. The popular race, which saw over 2300 finishers, takes runners up and out of Worksop on a constantly undulating course, into and through the Clumber Park, especially resplendent with the autumnal colours and mostly blue skies, before returning back to Worksop for the thankfully downhill finish.
With Halloween themed fancy dress encouraged, the race strikes a great balance between a fun event and a serious road race being that it, once again, incorporated the Nottinghamshire Half Marathon Championships. It was pleasing to report that with a great deal of effort from the organisers, Worksop Harriers AC - aided by the support of over 150 volunteers, that the issues regarding pre-race number collection and post-race baggage reclaim that afflicted the 2017 race were smoothed out, making this race arguably one of the best value and best hosted races in the region.  

First home for Grantham Running Club was Matthew Kingston-Lee. Making a cautious start having not quite fully recovered from a chest infection and self inflicted injury caused by running into railings during training, ‘MKL’ ran a near carbon copy repeat of his 2017 race to finish stronger than those around him, coming home eleventh in 1:16:23. Finishing third in the V40 age category (Winning £15!) Matthew was ‘very pleased’ particularly to finish a whole one second faster than in 2017.

Matthew Williamson was next to finish for GRC, pleased too with his very solid 1:26:42, two weeks on from his PB at Peterborough. It was half marathon number eleven in 2018 for the prolific Tony Johnson, who again ran very well to clock 1:28:13. Rob Howbrook appeared a touch disappointed that his 1:32:06 was a couple of minutes down on his 2017 time, especially as this year it was a round of the GRC Grand Prix Series and the reigning champion is, once again, in a tight battle with MKL, who managed to score three more points than Robert. 

Behind Robert, Paul Rushworth was a welcome face at the race given that he currently lives well
away from the Grantham area; his 1:36:36 a solid performance from the well travelled runner.
Immediately after the race, Holly Durham admitted there is ‘much to do’ to get back to peak fitness, having suffered for some months with an Achilles injury. The positive news from Holly, who was first GRC woman home in 1:39:20, other than posting a faster half marathon time in 2018 than her sister Penny, is that the issue seems resolved and she can look forward to training fully for the 2019 Manchester Marathon. 

There was much joy for Kevin Kettle who missed out on breaking 1:40 at Peterborough by just two seconds, but finished just behind Holly in 1:39:31 to set his second half marathon PB in October. Following Kevin, Jack Dodwell was looking to break 1:40 after a disappointing run at the Royal Parks Half Marathon and so he did, thanking Kevin and Holly after the race for their help with pacing.    
Simon Smith, finishing in 1:42:05, was another runner who declared themselves ‘very pleased’ after breaking his half marathon PB by exactly two minutes. Helen Brown (1:45:48) ran well to be under half a minute slower than her time two weeks earlier on the faster Great Eastern Run course. She finished just ahead of Clive George who, in his first half marathon in GRC colours, arguably put in the performance of the day by smashing his PB by ten minutes, clocking 1:46:13. 
A great run from Caroline Davies saw her finish just ten seconds off her PB, breaking 1:50 for just the second time with 1:49:22. Anthony Boyle ran his second half marathon two weeks after making his debut and was ‘really pleased’ with his time of 1:54:43, a couple of seconds better than his effort at Peterborough. Behind Anthony, Sarah High (1:56:23) and Sam Dodwell (1:57:30), both ran well to break the two hour barrier. 

Having set a PB at Peterborough, Julie Gilbert was very happy to go faster still - clocking 2:01:56, commenting that the course was ‘beautifully scenic, but with far more hills than I remembered!’ Tracey Smith also remarked on the beautiful, but undulating course; the pain of a bruised toenail will hopefully be compensated by a cracking new PB of 2:11:31, just under five minutes quicker than her previous best, set at the Robin Hood Half Marathon last month. Tracey ran with Belinda Baker, who clocked the exact same time and also set a big new PB, nearly ten minutes quicker than her previous best.

Behind Belinda and Tracey, Nicola Cottam finished in 2:21:58 and Sue Swann 2:32:05, running their third and fourth half marathons of 2018 respectively. Running with Sue and clocking the same time, Yvette Taylor had a great run to better her debut by over ten minutes, pleased to have tried and completed a second half marathon having been put off by the infamously hot and tough 2018 Sleaford Half. Next to finish was Edina Burns who was determined to make her half marathon debut, despite coming down with a cold ahead of the race. She thanked her friends afterwards for getting her around in 2:33:55, especially when the going got tough at mile ten.

Completing a successful day for GRC, Vicki Geeson (2:44:59) and Yvonne Buckley (2:45:00) finished together, as they had begun and for the entire way around. Successfully finishing her first half marathon, Vicki thanked Yvonne, without whom she felt she would not have finished.
The race was won by Kristian Watson of Sutton-in-Ashfield Harriers & AC in 1:11:26 with Alice Thackray of Charnwood AC the winning woman in 1:26:52.  

Leicestershire 10K


It was a almost a clean sweep of personal bests at Prestwold Hall on Sunday 28th October with five of the six Grantham Running Club members taking part in the Leicestershire 10K securing new record figures.
Unsurprisingly the race had generally positive reviews: after some congestion at the start, runners had plenty of space on the airfield based race, but had to contend with the perennial issue on such courses, namely exposure to the wind. At least pleasant autumnal sunshine took the edge off the cold southerly. The course was mostly flat, sometimes on gravel, with a grand finish in front of the Hall, complete with a compare giving a shout out to each and every finisher, who was rewarded with medal, drink, banana, flapjack and sweets!
New club member Russell Love was first to finish, setting an excellent new PB of 41:19, which was nearly three minutes quicker than his previous effort over 10K. He was followed by another new member Tim Brown, who appears to have made his race debut, setting an impressive benchmark of 44:43 upon which to hopefully improve. Matt Fryer’s PB of 45:31 knocked 39 seconds off his previous best.
Mark Jessop (1:03:30) was the unlucky GRC runner who didn’t set a personal best at Prestwold Hall, but he can be satisfied with his second quickest 10K of 2018. Although 39 seconds down her time at the multi-terrain Clumber Park Trust 10K a week earlier, Louise Kennedy set an official 10K PB with her 1:06:21 clocking - over two minutes quicker than her previous best set two weeks ago at the Stilton Stumble. Amanda Hetherington completed the quintet of personal record setters, taking nearly two minutes off her previous best with 1:06:36.
The race was won by Nick Samuels of Sale Harriers Manchester in 32:34 with Alice Daniel of Sheffield Hallam AC the winning woman in 37:04. There were 728 finishers.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Mizuno Amsterdam Half Marathon


Grantham Running Club’s Gav Meadows took part in the Amsterdam Half Marathon on Sunday 21st October. The race started at 1.20pm local time as the marathon takes place at 9.30am on the same day. The event also offers an 8km race. Starting close to the Olympic Stadium, the half marathon course takes in sights including the Tropenmuseum, the old Heineken brewery (now the Heineken Experience), the Rijksmuseum & Vondelpark before finishing inside the Olympic Stadium itself. Conditions on the day were perfect for running with very little wind & temperatures around 15 degrees celsius. The course is very flat & ideal for running fast times.

Having run the marathon in 2017, Gav opted for a slightly less demanding trip this year. Going into the race he was hoping for a time somewhere around the 90 minute mark having improved his fitness with a good 6 weeks of training following a poor performance at the Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon. He said ‘I knew that a personal best was unlikely based on recent form but training had gone well so I was hoping for a respectable performance to build on going into marathon training for 2019.’

Gav started strongly & averaged around 6:45 per mile for the first 6.5 miles. However, he wasn’t quite able to maintain this pace & his average crept over 7:00 per mile for the second half of the race. He said ‘I adopted my usual strategy for a flat race - go for broke from mile 1 & hope I can maintain the pace. I just wasn’t quite fit enough to do it on this occasion.’ As Gav came into the stadium he knew that a sub 90 minute time was out of reach. However, he still finished in a very respectable 1:31:40 averaging just under 7 minutes per mile for the whole race.

He said ‘I’m quite content with this performance. It was neither good or bad - somewhere in the middle. I have to be fairly happy given my last performance over this distance. If nothing else, it at least indicates some kind of return to form & fitness.’ He added ‘It was nice to do a slightly shorter race abroad & be able to relax a little more. Being a spectator for the marathon in the morning was a fantastic experience & seeing the elites in action up close was truly awe inspiring.’

Leigh-On-Sea 10k

Recovering from a recent knee injury

Kate Marshall of Grantham Running Club returned to her home town in Essex on Sunday 21st October to compete in the 10th annual staging of the Leigh-on-Sea (LoSS) 10k. Commencing with a 600 metre long hill to climb, the undulating course was not ideal for personal bests, but beautiful views over the Thames Estuary and autumn sunshine made for a spectacular route.
Runners initially enjoyed the historic Old Town, before following the scenic seafront towpath to Chalkwell, with great support from spectators enjoying the beach, before looping back towards Leigh-on-Sea. Upon completion runners were rewarded with a bottle shaped medal and a glass of Prosecco from race hosts Leigh on Sea Striders in celebration of the race’s tenth anniversary.
Recovering from a recent knee injury, Kate adopted a cautious approach to the challenging hilly route, and although her time of 1:02:52 was several minutes away from her personal best at this distance, she was pleased to have completed the race and looks forward to taking part again in 2019.