December is definitely one of the quieter months of the year for racing – it’s not hard to wonder why given the Christmas and New Year celebrations and the temperamental weather that can wreak havoc with the best laid plans to stage a race. There are though still a fair few races to choose from and GRC members put in some stellar efforts to close a blockbusting year in style!
Creeping in with an effort at the very start of the month is Sam Dodwell who capped off a quite amazing year of consistent improvement to clock a fifteen second 20:19 PB at the Nottingham Christmas 5K. Given that his first parkrun in June 2018 was 27:54, it’s very impressive that he is now just eighteen months later knocking on the door of his first sub-20 performance. A week later at the Keyworth Turkey Trot Half Marathon in conditions that were sub-optimal, Adrian Walker put in a great run to clock 1:42:11 – a four minute improvement on his previous best. On the same morning in Telford and racing on the quickest 10K course in the country, Jonathan Palmer capped a quite amazing twelve months with a massive 32:59 PB and new club record, hopefully banishing any disappointment suffered at losing his previous PB at Leeds in October.
Eager club members called upon the recently created Mallory Park Winter Series, held on December 29th, to burn off any possible Christmas excess and perhaps play that GP Series Joker that had gone unused for the year just gone. Among some fine performances on a blustery morning Martin Carter was nominated for his eighteen second 24:59 PB over 5K and Samuel Jepson-Rivers was too for partially allaying the Leeds Abbey Dash disappointment with a sub-40 39:56 official 10K PB. Julie Braker was nominated for running 54:52 at the same 10K race. While not a PB it was the first road race Julie has completed since suffering a very serious injury back in March. With a score of 84.55% it also happened to be the best age graded race performance of the year by a GRC woman.
Two other members were nominated for efforts at Mallory Park and for performances two days later at the Peterborough New Year’s Eve 10K. Kate Marshall was just one second off her 5K PB with a 28:11 clocking at Mallory Park then ran 57:17 at the subsequent 10K race at Ferry Meadows. This was her quickest 10K by nine seconds but not an official PB despite being run on a certified ‘road course.’ The anomaly is a result of a technicality that the race was licensed as multi-terrain (on a measured course, it should be said), but due to flooding was switched to the road course. Apparently the classification cannot be changed by the powers that be, so an official PB it is not, but a very creditable run nonetheless.
The same hard-to-fathom technicalities prevail for MotM runner-up, Claire Fritz, who firstly ran a 5K PB at Mallory Park by fourteen seconds before running her fastest 10K by thirty three seconds two days later at Peterborough with a near sub-60 1:00:33. It capped off a fine year of running for Claire who I can reveal, having just finished crunching the numbers, was one of the club’s most prolific racers / parkrunners.
The runaway winner of December Member of the Month was racing as if his time on these hallowed lands was limited (which it was, and is, for the time being). With minimum fanfare Andrew Pask headed to Valencia at the beginning of the month to take part in their marathon which is fast growing a reputation for quick times. He took full advantage to clock 3:05:10, a marathon PB by two minutes thirteen seconds and the sixth fastest marathon of 2019 by a GRC runner.
Back in his native Wales post Christmas, Andrew then broke his five mile PB by a minute with 32:16 at the Old Father Time Vets 5 in Cardiff on the 29th, then at the legendary Nos Galen 5K on New Year’s Eve evening, broke his 5K PB by twenty nine seconds with a 19:18 clocking. Both races featured suicidally quick opening miles for the normally metronomic runner, so were definitely earned the hard way! Andrew’s PB busting performances came off the back of preparations that were far from ideal so are all the more impressive for it. Hopefully there is plenty more to come for the second member to win Member of the Month for a second time.
Last seen running on roads where Google Street View fears to tread, congratulations Andrew on being December 2019 Member of the Month!