Grantham Running Club fielded a senior men’s and women’s team at the Saucony English Cross Country Relays, held again this year at Berry Hill Park in Mansfield on Saturday 3rd November. The event attracts some of the best club runners from around the country to compete on an undulating, wooded course, with conditions milder and dryer than recent years. The crowd support was great, albeit they were mostly cheering on the leaders who, due to their sheer pace and compact nature of the 2.5k circuit, were soon lapping the field.
On the start line for the four leg men’s team was Rob Howbrook. Completing the first 5k leg in a time of 20 minutes 50 seconds, Rob placed the team comfortably mid pack before handing over to Paul Davis. A last minute replacement for the injured Nev Chamberlain, Paul ran a cautious leg, himself regaining fitness after injury.
After Paul’s 23:08 the baton was passed to Piers Pye-Watson, who put in a fantastic two laps to record a time of 18 minutes 14 seconds. Last out was Matthew Williamson, making his first appearance at a national cross country event after being denied last year due to injury. Just missing out on not having to take the mass fourth leg start, Matthew’s 20:37 leg gave the team an overall time of 1:22:50 placing them in a creditable 114th place from 153 teams.
The winners of the men’s relay were Leeds City AC in a time of 1:00:22 with split times of 14:59; 15:17; 15:00; and 15:05.
The senior women’s relay was a three leg race held on a twisting and undulating 3k lap. GRC were represented by Justyna Gill, Magaretta Murray and Caroline Davis. With a thankfully dry course, Justyna was first away putting in a solid lap and handing over to Magaretta in a time of 16:40. Magaretta ran strongly along the wooded trails of the park to complete her leg in 19:13. A clear track ahead of her, Caroline was soon able to get into her stride and managed to elevate the women to 113th overall with a lap time of 13:28.
Caroline commented afterwards, “We knew the quality of the competition here was going to make today extremely challenging. All we wanted was to not finish last and so we are pretty happy with our performance overall.”
The women’s race was won by Tonbridge AC in 29:17, with splits of 9:35; 9:51; and 10:02.