Alex Curtis, Nov 21

Sink into a comfy chair, Constant Reader. Pour a glass of something (‘Tis the Season after all) and let’s get down to November’s Member of The Month:

November – the time of year we runners like to get a little dirty! 😉

We trade road shoes for trails/spikes and “enjoy” stomping around fields, through lashings of mud & puddles. Perhaps nothing else provides more of a ‘marmite moment’ than the commencement of Cross-Country season.

But, love it or hate it, the running calendar isn’t the same without XC and it’s good to see it back after a well-documented hiatus last year (thanks Covid!). I must say, to see the wind ripple hundreds of club flags at the National XC Relays, is a stirring sight… Indicative of the pilgrimage that is Berry Hill Park in Mansfield… or is that just me, Constant Reader?

Aside from the return of Cross-Country, the night’s drawing in and the ludicrously early displays of Christmas paraphernalia in shops up and down the land, November saw Grantham Running Clubs Grand Prix continue with another two rounds: The Derby 10 and the Doncaster 10k.

Second claim member, Matthew Williamson turned in a bold Derby 10 performance to gain a nomination, he clocked a very credible 01:00:05.

The unparalleled Catherine Payne extended her GP lead – scoring 78.99% in age grading.

In her fifth race of the series Kate Marshall carried on her one-woman PB demolition quest, turning in another wonderful performance to clock 01:33:57. I make that Kate’s 5th PB of 2021 and across a full suite of distances from parkrun to Half Marathon – quite the vintage year!

Lou Kennedy also gained her nomination on the pavements of Derby with a quite stonking performance. Taking 17 minutes and 25 seconds off her previous time and setting a new PB of 1:53:03, Louise was delighted with her running and quite rightly so.

Peter Bonner recaptured some of his form with duel Grand Prix outings. At Derby 10, his third 10 miler of 2021, he secured a Season’s Best time of 01:11:03. He followed it with a fine Doncaster 10k – not only first home for GRC, in clocking 41:09 it was his best time for 2 years.

Sylv Hull put in her own strong performance at Doncaster, coming home in 52:10 and in doing so shaved 2 minutes and 49 seconds off her hitherto personal best set at Chase the Sun in May of this year. 

Elsewhere, Phillip Crowcroft dug deep in the cold of the Leicestershire 10k held at Prestwold Hall to bag his own PB of 47:18 – an improvement of 49 seconds.

The indomitable, Sarah High enjoyed another outstanding month. The National Relays, Derby 10, and not least 3 XC fixtures. She battled not only the courses, but also the thankless and underappreciated task of organising teams and GRC members to enjoy and take part in the aforementioned XC meets. 

Simon Hartley ran (and paddled) his way to a confidence boosting 10k performance at the Southwold 10k – improving his season’s best with 01:01:56, a time over 7 minutes better than his 2019 attempt.

Tracy Paul flew the green and black flag in warmer climes opting for not one but two races in Portugal, the first; Lisboa Green Trail a 12 mile trail race. The second, the Don Dinis 10km night race. Notwithstanding his early month escapades in this country when the completed the 26 mile Six Dale Circuit. 

Moving on up the pecking order, we cover this month’s runner up. With a renewed vigor for running since joining the club, she has quickly gone from strength to strength as the miles and more consistent training has racked up. Quietly and with no fuss she turned a few heads at the club 10k Solstice jaunt in late June and then again at the club’s summer evening 5k in July. A strong performance at the Great North Run in September – on a well publicised tough and undulating course – only served to further bolster her credentials.

Making her Cross-Country debut for GRC at the Lincs League held at Madge’s Farm, Stroxton in early November, she made seemingly light work of the rolling nature of the 7.3k course to storm home in a fantastic 4th place and bring home the first GRC lady’s team berth.

A noteworthy performance from Rachel Hamilton, richly deserving of praise; Congrats Rachel!

The winner of November’s Member of The Month is very much in the spring of his years (so don’t hold that against him!) and is on a meteoric rise in his running ‘career’.

A race debut in the Multi-Terrain Rutland Half Marathon in September, quickly bettered in October by an eye catching 1:25:24, at Cambridge Half, also achieving UK rankings for the distance – 46th in the under 20 age category.

Notwithstanding a strong performance in late October at the Lincoln 10k to boot.

Similarly to Rachel, his previous months escapades have served him well and provided an obvious springboard to give a glimpse just what he is capable of.

Ditching the longer stuff for the Supernova night 5k in Queen Elizabeth Park, London he set off strongly in the tightly twisting course. Clinging on to the pace and even managing a fast finish, he was elated to post a very credible 18:18 and also secure a podium position, collecting a fantastic 2nd place.

November Member of The Month

Certainly, one to watch, ladies and gentlemen of GRC, may I present November’s Member of The Month; Alex Curtis.

Well done Alex!

Big thumbs up to all nominees too!

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