Sunday, 31 March 2019

Grantham Cup

On Sunday 31st March a record 339 runners and 46 Canicross (CaniX) participants with their four-legged friends took part in the tenth Grantham Cup - one of the region’s favourite and most unique off-road running experiences. This challenging 10K race, hosted by Grantham Running Club, starts within the historic grounds of Belton House and takes place alongside the Belton International Horse Trials. More than just a race, the Grantham Cup allows participants the unique opportunity to take in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside, visit a historic stately home and, once they have finished the race, enjoy the horse trials as part of their entry fee.
The course is considered very challenging, held on rough, unforgiving, cross country terrain, and includes several ascents of the hill upon which the National Trust owned Bellmount Tower stands at the top. The steep incline tests the resolve of even the hardiest of runners but the spectacular views over Grantham from the summit make the jelly legs worthwhile. Moreover, there are sections around the surrounding woodland and in the grounds of Belton House itself that allow runners to catch their breath and recover somewhat.
Jeronimo was first home for GRC
As well as enjoying pleasant spring sunshine and conditions kind for running, the 2019 event saw conditions underfoot good to firm, in contrast to the soft and muddy conditions in 2018. Finishers were rewarded with a commemorative medal locally designed by Alex Tall, and a bottle of beer specially commissioned for the event from local brewery Oldershaw. As in previous years profits from the GRC hosted race are donated to a local charity, with equine welfare charity Bransby Horses the chosen benefactors for 2019. Prizes, themed in keeping with the running of the horse trials, were awarded to first three male and female finishers, various age category prizes and also to the top CaniX participants.
The race was won by local junior athlete William Tucker of Grantham Athletic Club, who serenely galloped past the finish line in an impressive 00:36:46. Having finished runner up in 2018, Will was delighted to take the top spot on the podium in 2019. Aaron Harris of RAF Cranwell was second in 00:38:13 and Paul Massingham of Stamford Striders was third in 00:40:50.

Former GRC member Emma Johnston now of Helm Hill Runners was first female in a time of 00:44:53. Eva Wilkes of Norwich Road Runners was second in 00:46:34 and Grantham Running Club's own Joss Smith took an excellent third place in 00:47:27, bettering her 2018 time by over four minutes.
Sam sums up the hill
The female V35 prize went to Sam Lewsky in 00:47:56. FV45 was won by Kerry Stainton (00:48:49); FV55 went to Fiona Lawrie (00:58:49).
The male V40 prize went to Simon Daniel, who clocked 00:42:09. Martin Waite (00:44:33) won the MV50 category, with the MV60 prize going to David Babbs (00:48:34).

The winning CaniX runner home was Christopher Taggart in 00:42:09, followed by Clarke Midgley, second in 00:44:33 and Ben Pearson, third in 00:42:58. The winning female CaniX runner was Joanne Bitcliffe, who clocked 00:46:47. She was followed by Sue Brewin 00:47:21 and Jillian Boys, third in 00:51:07.

The event was well supported by athletes from Grantham Running Club, 26 of whom competed with some attempting the challenging course for the first time. First to finish was Joaquim Jeronimo who finished in 5th place on his Grantham Cup debut with an excellent time of 00:41:28. Joining Joaquim in the top thirty were Gav Meadows (23rd, 00:45:08) and Russell Love (29th, 00:46:13).
GRC also had a pair of CaniX entries with Caroline Davis and four-legged friend coming home in 00:53:31, with Claire Williams following in 00:58:03.

Having spent many long months coordinating the event before passing over responsibility to willing GRC volunteers on the day, Race Director Hayley Staff joined the field and was delighted to have completed the challenging course in under the hour, recording a time of 00:59:45.
Great run by Joss
The event was universally well received, with participants noting that it was a friendly and well organised race with a challenging but enjoyable course.

Grantham Running Club give grateful thanks to the large number of volunteers who made the event possible, working tirelessly behind the scenes and on the day to make the event a success, including those who provided medical support to the event, and to local photographers ParkRey Photography and Shaun Parkes who photographed the race.
Grantham Running Club results in full:
Position Time Name
5 00:41:28 Joaquim Jeronimo
23 00:45:08 Gav Meadows
29 00:46:13 Russell Love
38 00:47:17 Stefan Latter
40 00:47:27 Joss Smith
43 00:47:46 Samuel Jepson-Rivers
51 00:48:28 Christopher Moore
64 00:50:18 Stuart Reader
68 00:51:12 Craig Drury
93 00:53:31 Caroline Davis (CaniX)
97 00:54:21 Stuart Baty
129 00:56:27 Anthony Boyle
142 00:57:01 Richard Winter Noon
152 00:58:03 Claire Williams (CaniX)
157= 00:58:13 Paul Kelly
177 00:59:45 Hayley Staff
178 00:59:46 Christopher Toon
215 01:03:26 David Lewis
230= 01:05:23 Rachel Varela
245 01:06:24 Kate Marshall
257 01:07:17 Claire Martin
278 01:09:21 Diana McDonald
303 01:14:49 Vicky Willan
310 01:15:47 Rebecca Angel
320 01:17:18 Simon Hartley
335 01:23:32 Louise Kennedy

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Gainsborough & Morton 10k

Sam, Paul, Naomi and Louise

Five members of Grantham Running Club were able to secure places and take part in the eighth Gainsborough and Morton 10k Road Race, round four of the club’s 2019 Grand Prix series. Hosted by Gainsborough & Morton Striders Athletic Club the popularity of the race, which takes place in the height of the spring half marathon and 20 mile race season, caught many interested GRC runners by surprise - the race filling its quota of 1050 entrants months ahead of the scheduled closing date.
The clear and bright early spring day, coupled with cool but not cold temperatures, made it near ideal conditions for racing, save for a stiff westerly breeze that made the going tough from around 2.5K through to just past the 6K marker on unsheltered roads.  Starting and ending in the village of Morton, the flat and fast one lap course headed northeast on quiet country lanes towards Blyton Carr. At Blyton the course headed west to the village of East Stockwith. The second half of the race briefly mirrored the path of the River Trent to Walkerith before leaving the Trent behind on the march back to the finish line in Morton.
First home for the Green Army was the ever impressive Grant Davies, finishing a fine eithteenth. Quick out of the blocks for the first mile he was pegged back by the aforementioned wind, but dug deep to finish in 37:23, just ten seconds outside his 10K PB.
Next home was Sam Jepson-Rivers. Continuing a fine run of form in March, he beat his 10k PB by over three minutes to finish in 42:42. Initially targeting sub 45 minutes, he passed halfway feeling good and decided to push hard to finish in sub 43, much to his own delight and surprise! Sam’s father, Paul Jepson put in a solid performance to finish in 52:37 resulting in an age grading of 65.75%. Whilst not quite at his best, he was pleased given a recent spate of injuries and illness.
Perhaps the performance of the day came from Naomi Jepson-Rivers, who capped off a fantastic day for the Jepson-Rivers family by shattering her previous personal best by over five and a half minutes! Naomi had come to the race with a goal of ‘Breaking 60’, only to find herself well ahead of target pace at the half way point. Maintaining the pace she was more than delighted to bring it home in a fantastic 54:50.
Louise Kennedy rounded off a positive day for the GRC contingent. Initially pegged back by the stiff breeze, she rallied to finish better than expected with a clocking of 1:07:17 which included a sprint finish. Her time is just one minute shy of her PB set in November last year.
Each of the race’s 830 finishers were presented with a 22 piece goodie bag (!) that also included a delightfully detailed medal. The well organised event had ample parking at the local school just 5 minutes from the start line. There was also plenty of local support along the course on a day that also featured a 1k family fun run.
 The race was won by Rob Payne of Castor Running Club in 32:45 with Laura Wilkinson of Lincoln Wellington AC the winning woman in 36:06.

London Landmarks Half Marathon

PB for Sam

On Sunday 24th March four members of Grantham Running Club headed to the capital in glorious spring sunshine to take part in the second London Landmarks Half Marathon. Starting on Pall Mall and finishing by Downing Street, as the race’s title implies, the race packs in many of London's most iconic landmarks, including Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral, Nelson's Column, the Gherkin, the Shard, the Tower of London and the London Eye.
Ian's marathon training
First home for GRC was Ian McBain in 1:37:38, who was using the race as training for an upcoming spring marathon. A delighted Sam Dodwell followed in 1:47:43 bettering his previous PB set at the Great Eastern Run by just shy of three minutes.
Kate Marshall was next to finish in 2:23:07. A below-par Kate was feeling unwell with sinusitis but was still determined to take part as finishing the race meant she raised over £800 for Make-a-Wish, a charity that grants life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.  Last but not least for GRC was Vicky Platt, who was taking part in her first ever half marathon. Just looking to get around and finish, like all the other GRC runners taking part she enjoyed the amazing scenery and fantastic support given from the crowd and volunteers. Vicky set a benchmark of 2:38:24 upon which to target in her next half marathon.
 Seyfu Jamaal of London Heathside was the winner in 1:08:14 with was Catriona Paterson of Hillingdon the winning woman in 1:23:07.

Aldi Ashby 20

Tony with his hoody

After a year’s absence, the Aldi Ashby 20 Road Race made a welcome return on Sunday 24th March.  Held under blue skies and pleasant temperatures for running, although there was a cool breeze blowing it was nothing compared to the second blast of the Beast from the East that cancelled the 2018 Ashby 20 and generally wreaked havoc with the UK racing calendar twelve months ago.
One of the best known and longest running 20 mile races in the country, the event is very popular as a pre-spring marathon training race, falling five weeks before the London Marathon. Entry to the 2019 edition was harder than usual as first preference was given to those who had entered the cancelled 2018 race and was declared full not long after entries officially opened in the autumn of last year.
The two lap course on a scenic but undulating route takes runners out of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, through the villages of Packington, Measham, Swepstone, Heather, and Normanton le Heath, and then back to Packington. On finishing at the Bath Grounds, runners are rewarded for their efforts with a famous Ashby 20 hoodie and goody bag.
First of five Grantham Running Club finishers was Tony Johnson who, just a week after a strong run at the Oundle 20, ran four minutes quicker at Ashby to clock a superb 2:15:23. This earned Tony 43rd place overall and third in the MV50 age category. It was Tony’s quickest 20 mile time since 2011 when he clocked 2:14:57. In that year Tony went on to clock 2:58:57 at the London Marathon, the last time Tony broke three hours for the marathon and a target for this year’s race that suddenly falls into the realm of distinct possibility.
Behind Tony, Liam Vincent continued his marathon preparations with a solid 2:52:43, just ahead of Caroline Davis who, like Tony, was taking part in her second 20 mile race in as many weeks, running well to clock 2:52:56, exactly two minutes quicker than she ran at Oundle. Behind Carlione, Sarah High came home in 3:08:52 and Julie Riggall followed in 3:44:21.
The race was won by Daniel Bagley of Holme Pierrepont Running Club, in a time of 1:51:43. Annie Byrne of BRAT (Birmingham Running, Athletics, and Triathlon Club) was the winning woman in 2:09:47. There were 1231 finishers.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Locke Park 20Ten

Catherine round the final bend

The build up to this year's Virgin London Marathon continued for two of GRC long distance runners with Catherine Payne and Robert McArdle making the long trip north to Redcar to compete in last Sunday's  Locke Park 20Ten  where both opted for the full twenty miles. 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!

There is only one real straight on the lap and it enjoyed a 45mph+ headwind coming straight off the North Sea to further test the field. In a crowded March race calendar this event  came just seven days after both completed a full marathon so they were expecting cumulative fatigue to play a big part later in the race. Catherine started well concentrating on running as far as she could at marathon pace before succumbing to heavy legs and the inevitable slowdown. Her plan was to keep the faster pace for the first ten miles but as she was still running well she was able to go through half marathons distance around the 1:36 mark and keep some sort of form right through to sixteen miles when she decided to ease off. Her finishing time of 2:33:59 was well outside her club record but was good enough to place her third lady and, using the WMA age grading that decides prize-winners for this race, her score of just over 80% made her fourth overall.

Robert McArdle found it particularly tough, ditching his hat after it kept blowing off in the first lap he got as far as eight miles before he had to dig as deep as you do in the final stages of a marathon, going through ten miles in around 77 minutes he was finding it was taking longer and longer to overtake the runners he was lapping at the same time as the leader were whizzing past him a full two minutes a lap faster. By lap 16 he was running on legs made of lead and was scuffing his shoes so often on the tarmac where the tree roots pushed it up that he seriously imagined he would wear a hole in them! The main motivation that pushed him on was trying to avoid being lapped by his teammate. His finishing time of 2:41:34 was his slowest ever at this distance but still good enough to be placed 17th when the age grading was applied and his 70% score ranked against the younger runners.