Sunday, 25 October 2020

Leicestershire 10k

Andrew Pask
Against all the odds this year’s Leicestershire 10k went ahead despite mounting COVID-19 restrictions. Two members of Grantham Running Club made the trip to Prestwold Hall for the event which covered a loop of the former RAF Wymeswold site. In strong winds on the exposed course, runners found it impossible to maintain a constant pace and the varied surface quality only served to upset the rhythm further.

First off in the waved start was Andrew Pask. With ambitions of challenging the 40min barrier Andrew ran a hard race to feel without looking at his watch until late on. With his first glance at the watch at the 8Km marker he was disappointed with what he saw. Picking up the pace immediately he dragged his average pace down to a more respectable level for him only to find a twisty last half a mile, with the finish straight on deep gravel at the front of Prestwold Hall. Andrew finished with a time of 41:07, whilst disappointing for him was still good enough to beat his best time for nearly 2 years.

Peter Bonner

Next was Peter Bonner who almost missed the start having slept through his early morning alarm. Starting further back than originally planned, Peter kicked on through the field just pleased to be racing at all on his return to fitness. Peter was also disappointed with his finish time and the quality of the course which he ran in 43:41 some 4:30 slower than his best.

The race was won by Domenic Jones in 31:11 of Rugby & Northampton and Hannah Lord in 37:05 of the Riverside Club. Incredibly there was 588 finishers.


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

Thoresby 10


Gerry was first home for GRC

On Sunday 18th October the Thoresby Estate in Nottinghamshire welcomed more than a thousand runners (both human and canine) from all over the UK for the rare opportunity to run in a multi-terrain trail race. The ten runners from Grantham Running Club had been holding their collective breath waiting to see if the event would be able to go ahead but SBR Events worked incredibly hard to ensure that the day was Covid safe, with staggered starts, social distancing and hygiene measures. A happy side effect of the reduced flow of competitors was that the normally inevitable toilet queues were absent.


Runners had a choice of distances around the tracks through the beautiful ancient woodlands and parkland which were just muddy enough to be challenging. It was noticed by everyone that the course was a touch long which made the dash for the finish harder to judge but it was nice to get a little extra distance thrown in for free.


In the 10K race, Gerry Hyde was the first back for GRC with a scorching time of 43:43 which earned him first place in his age category and sixteenth overall out of more than four hundred finishers. The winning streak continued as his team TBR also came first. He commented that he enjoyed the challenge of pacing the race and was very pleased to manage a strong finish.


Next back for GRC was Russell Maksymiw who also had an excellent run, managing even to knock two minutes off his (very quick) time at Caythorpe 10k the previous week. His time of 45:06 netted him 23rd place overall and fourth in his age category.  Sam Dodwell followed a couple of minutes later, taking part in his first race in six months. A fast start took its toll in the middle of his race but he managed to regain momentum in the latter half to finish in a respectable time of 47:53 and 41st overall.


Martin Carter finished next, 131st, in a time of 56:10 which exceeded his expectations having mentioned at the start that anything under an hour would be a good result given his lack of racing this year.  Dale Towning followed soon in 151st past the finish line in 56:53, which was a touch behind his time in 2019 due to having to nurse an injured calf muscle. Despite his disappointment, he thoroughly enjoyed the run.


Chasing Dale down was Sylv Hull who was very pleased to better her 2019 time by over two minutes to come in at 57:50 which left her in 158th overall position and ninth in her age category.  Sam French was next in a time of 1:20:51, which was not her fastest race but one of the most enjoyable with many compliments for her brightly coloured leggings which clearly cheered up all those around her.


Three GRC ladies took on the longer ten mile race. First back was Katie Bland who finished in a very respectable 1:35:02 which brought her neatly halfway up the field – 134th out of 238 runners. Next was Kate Marshall who has spent much of 2020 battling a knee injury which has seen her training mileage seriously curtailed. Though she didn’t feel race fit and had to deal with a throbbing knee towards the end, Kate was not unhappy with her time of 1:46:40. Having never raced this distance on a multi terrain course (which generally tend to be tougher than roads), Kate was happy with how close her time was to her road PB. Kate finished 191st, with Tracy Webb following a couple of minutes after in 1:48:55, which netted her ninth place in her age category and 202nd overall.


All the runners were full of praise for the organisers and marshals who had clearly worked incredibly hard to make the event happen safely. The support and atmosphere around the course was fantastic, as was the setting. A particular highlight for runners was catching a glimpse of the adorable Longhorn calves in the fields as they passed.


A super wooden medal and free event photographs made this event one that everyone thoroughly enjoyed and would definitely return to next year. All agreed that it felt like a real treat to be able to run in a race with club mates once again.


Kate Marshall with a throbbing knee

Race report c/o Sylv Hull. Photos: SBR Events / Mark Dewhurst Photography

Mallory Park 5K

Aaron Smith, Andrew Pask, Peter Bonner, Naomi Jepson-Rivers, Sam Jepson-Rivers and Vicki Ball

The Mallory Park 5K drew some of the finest athletes from across the country including 7 from our very own Grantham Running Club.  With entry limited to men who could run sub 20mins and ladies 24mins, the pressure on some runners to perform was clear. The race was held under strict COVID-19 conditions with the races staggered in ‘heats’ based on predicted finish time and start lines releasing groups of 6 at a time.

First off were the two GRC ladies, Naomi Jepson-Rivers and Vicki Ball with the early 09:00 start. Both ladies were looking to capitalise on the absolute perfect conditions on this flat, 3 lap course around the famous racetrack. Setting a fast early pace the ladies were keen to commit early. Together for the first mile, then Naomi pulled away holding the electric early pace slightly better. Hanging on and continuing to push as hard as possible, the ladies saw out the remaining two or more miles to set huge PBs and justify their place on the start line in this high quality field. Both ladies were delighted with their times and rightly so - Naomi’s time of 22:49  was over 1 min faster than her best set in 2019 and Vicki’s 23:45 was a 40s improvement on her best.

Next up were the 4 men proudly wearing the GRC green vest. Leading the pack off 20s ahead was Sam Jepson-Rivers who was quietly confident of a sub 19min run. Then it was Aaron Smith and Andrew Pask followed by Peter Bonner 10s behind. As with the ladies race, the first mile pace was a little ambitious for most runners all trying to cash-in on a Lockdown spent training hard.  Sam, confident from the offset was never going to be caught. His blistering pace was held throughout earning him a coveted time of 18:40 and placing him very much within the GRC elite. Next was the fast improving Aaron Smith in his first 5k race. Aaron’s time of 19:10 was an outstanding debut over the distance and will certainly run much faster in races to come. Then the consistent Andrew Pask crossed the line with 19:33 to post his 2nd fastest time over the rarely run distance for him. Next was Peter Bonner who’s returning to fitness with a fine 20:01.

The mens race was won by Harry Leleu of Chichester with a time of 14:07 and the ladies was won by Aimee Pratt of Sale Harriers with 15:53.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Caythorpe Dash 10k and 5k – Sunday 11th October 2020


Given the unprecedented disruptions and cancellations to organised sports across the world as result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a pleasant surprise that the 24th annual Caythorpe Dash 10k and 5k survived to take place on Sunday 11th October 2020.

To say it merely ‘survived’ is an enormous discredit in truth. The feedback was full of praise for Race Director Dave Fidler and his army of volunteers and marshals that helped stage the multi-terrain event.

The picturesque, but somewhat testing 10k course starts and finishes at the playing fields in Caythorpe Village, passing briefly through the village of Fulbeck, utilising bridle paths, quiet lanes and a former railway line along the Lincoln Edge.  

A pleasantly warm and sunny autumnal morning set the tone for the day, with
runners heading out in groups of six-or-less in ten minute waves, something that has become part and parcel of staging events in this ‘new normal’ Covid environment.

First out and ultimately fastest home for Grantham Running Club in the 10K race was Sam Jepson-Rivers in a time of 43:01. Some way off his best, it was good enough however to secure a top ten finish.  

Next home for GRC and ecstatic to be running again, let alone racing, was Russell Maksymiw, who suffered a few injuries over the course of the year, but put in a confidence boosting performance to
finish in 47:15. He was followed by Stuart Baty, who was delighted to finally be racing in 2020 and was pleased with his sub-50-minute 49:16, given the over mostly off-road conditions.

First lady and ‘fresh’ from her Virtual London Marathon effort the weekend before, was Nim Jepson-Rivers in a time of 53:58. She managed to pip father-in-law Paul Jepson home. Hampered by some hip pain his time of 54:26 Paul was not quite at the level of his impressive virtual racing form of the summer. 

Sylv Hull showed that her recent training has served her well with a welcome return to form, clocking 58:10. Happy with her performance, she vowed to return to better her effort next year. Stephen Fay was full of plaudits for the marshals and the jelly babies gratefully received at the top of the infamous Gorse Hill Lane climb. Struggling with knee pain in the latter stages he battled to the finish, clocking 59:24. Falling foul of some misdirection, the unlucky Wayne Baxter ended up running an extra kilometer. Despite the hiccup his recent summer trail adventures paid dividends as he was still able to finish in 01:00:37. 

Separated by just twelve seconds Jacqueline Anderson (01:04:39) and Kate Marshall (01:04:51) echoed the general good feeling of finally being able to race this year, in particular Kate whose grand plans of a debut marathon in 2020 have been put on ice for now. Behind Kate, Tracy Webb was another to enjoy her foray back into the racing landscape, finishing in a time of 01:07:35.  

Second claim GRC member Chris Limmer, representing Hinckley Running Club, enjoyed a sprint finish to take seventh position, clocking 40:28.  There were 111 finishers.

In the supporting 5K race, which saw a modest field of seventeen finishers, arguably the results of the day for GRC were provided by Stewart Pick (21:30) and Vicki Ball (24:42) in the 5k event. They finished second and third respectively overall with Vicki winning the
female section. 

Stewart being particularly delighted to clock a time faster than both his official 5k road time and that of his best parkrun effort. Vicki was thrilled to unexpectedly take the lady’s top spot with her canine companion Monty who, at times, hindered more than supported Vicki, showing a complete lack of direction in the opening stages!

Behind Vicki finished Fraser Marshall (25:27), who made the race very much a Marshall family affair by running most of the course with his youngest daughter, Grace. Fraser and Kate’s eldest daughter, Olivia, also put in a fine run to finish fourth overall.  

The 10K race was won by James Ross in 35:20, with Harriet Johnson the winning female in 44:46. The 5K race winner was Christopher Pell of Cambridge and Coleridge in 18:06.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Dorney Lake Marathon plus London and Manchester Virtual Marathons


Caroline Davis after the Dorney Marathon

Caroline writes "When the Virgin London Marathon finally succumbed to Covid-19 and there was an option to run a virtual marathon, there was an opportunity to find out if any marathons were taking place on the 4th October.  Lo and behold, Active Training World was holding a live event at Dorney Lake, the home to the rowing events at the 2012 Olympics.  It was billed as four laps around the rowing course (it was actually 4 horseshoe laps around the lake).  Drawing closer to the event, Storm Alex descended upon Britain and the weather wasn’t looking great.  It was however just a great feeling to be able to go out with fellow runners again. 

The event was organised in hourly starts of runners based on predicted time with runners setting off six at a time.  As an early morning runner, I was rather gutted to see an 11.00am start.  After a quick email and being able to change my start time, I prepared for my first marathon race of the year after getting so close during the spring (I dabbled with a Virtual Race to the Stones off-road marathon taking in the Jubilee Way during July). 

After making good time getting to the venue, I managed to get myself at the back of the sub 3-hour runners.  Hitting the go button on my watch and the Virtual London Marathon app, I then hit technical issues (must remember to switch on my mobile data). I managed to get the app up and running a third of a mile into the marathon.

Settling into a pace against the wind and the rain, I came back to the start line as the lead runners were completing their first lap in around 40 minutes.  Hopefully, I could get onto my second lap before being overtaken by them.  The second wave of runners set off around the time I had completed my first lap.  These were the 4 hour plus runners, so I could overtake a few people.  After the second lap, I hit a bulge, with the sub 4 hour runners setting off.  Somewhere in the middle of these was Sophie Raworth.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see her on the course, but on the news the next night, she looked remarkably fresh after running a sub 3 hour 30 minute marathon. 

My pace was going really well at 8 minutes 35 seconds per mile until 21 miles, and then my right leg decided it was going to give way.  Looking ahead to the Eton College rowing headquarters and looking across to the other side of the course, I put my head down and concentrated on keeping going, reckoning it was a long way to walk and running any speed would be the better option. 

The Virtual London marathon app kept me going over the last few miles, although I was conscious that I would still need to run a bit further than the Dorney Lake finishing line to complete the marathon distance for London.  Thankfully when approaching the 26 mile marker, there was Steve Cram proclaiming that I’d finished the marathon and I still needed to go round the corner to the finish line for the Dorney Lake marathon. 

For London, I managed a time of 3 hours 51 minutes and 21 seconds.  I also submitted this time for the virtual Manchester marathon.  For the Dorney Lake Marathon, I registered a time of 3 hours 52 minutes and 4 seconds, coming in 398th out of 522 finishers and tenth in my age category.  The winner came home in a time of 2 hours 26 minutes and 14 seconds; the first lady home finished in a time of 2 hours 49 minutes 30 seconds".