Sunday, 18 October 2020

Bedford Autodrome Marathon 2020

Three athletes from Grantham Running Club travelled to the Covid Secure Bedford Autodrome Marathon on Sunday 18th with their minds very much on the London Marathon, all for different reasons. 

Experienced marathon runners Catherine Payne and Robert McArdle both came first in their respective age categories and qualified for London 2022, however the performance of the day was from Craig Drury who had won the GRC Club ballot to represent the club at this year’s London race.  Like 45,000 others he had trained hard all winter for a race that never happened only to have to keep his mileage up all summer for an October “virtual” run that ended up being round the roads of Ropsley and Lenton with a few club mates rather than being cheered on by crowds as he finished in the Mall.
In Bedford with the absence of a mass start Craig found it easy to set off at his target pace and decided to ease back on power at the quarter distance mark to preserve energy for what he knew would be a tough last few miles. Ignoring those around him as they sped up or slowed down he controlled his pace and even managed a sprint finish to record a time of 3:49:41, some 29 minutes inside his previous best set at the Eryri Snowdonia Marathon a year ago.

Aiming for a “Good for Age” qualification for the 2022 London Marathon Catherine and Robert were looking to secure the times required for automatic entry as this year qualifying opportunities are very limited due to the pandemic. After eight months without a single race to prepare, both chose a low risk approach to get a “banker” time rather than risk going all out and falling well short. Catherine opted for a negative split, running the first half of the race in one hour forty one minutes before increasing her pace to complete the second half in just under the one forty mark to finish in a time 3:20:44 to place her over 35 minutes inside the current qualifying standard. In a year of reduced racing,  this saw her ranked in the fastest 80 women marathon runners in the UK in 2020 and also 6th fastest in her age group.
Robert was pleased to clock 3:30:08, inside the qualifying time for his London age group by just over 12 minutes following a tough race dropping almost 90 seconds in the final three miles as a precaution to ensure a solid finish. He was rewarded with a UKA ranking of 12th in his age group for the marathon in 2020.

The race was won by Andrew Davies of Stockport in 2:17:12 with Johanna Oregan of St Neots first lady in 2:41:31

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