Boston Marathon Festival

Since its inception 10 years ago as a single race, Lincolnshire’s Boston Marathon Festival has continued to grow into its current multi-distance format.   Attracting runners from all over the UK and further afield is an extremely flat course, superb organisation, low entry fees and deep prize lists. Its inclusion as the Nottinghamshire Road Championship has increased the quality of the field even further.

The first race of the day to set off from the Market Place is the town centre was the full marathon.  Starting at eight o’clock to avoid the full heat of the day (oh the irony)  it actually turned out to be one of the coldest and wettest days of the year.

Grantham Running Club had three entrants in this event and the performance of the day was a 53½ minute PB from Jo Grace.   She hadn’t originally planned to even enter the race but after a PB at the Half Marathon and an on-target time at her first ever 20 miler, she decided she was race ready and didn’t need to wait till Edinburgh at the end of May.  Her 3:53:55 was the second fastest time by one of GRC’s ladies in 2024.

Another runner whose hard miles in training was rewarded by a PB was veteran runner Alan Carley who shaved 53 seconds off his previous best set in 2019.  This was all the more outstanding when you take into account the amount of flooding on the course which was ankle deep in either water or mud in over a dozen places. Alan’s 3:30:24 would have been minutes quicker on a warmer, drier, less windy day for the same effort.

The final GRC marathoner was Robert McArdle who was pleased to finish after a torn hamstring had restricted his training to short runs since February.  He was happy to score good points in the club’s championship by finishing in 3:43:23.

There were two Grantham athletes in the next race.  The 10k started at 8:15 and was also very successful in avoiding the “heat” of the day and conditions both overhead and underfoot with the potholed tarmac posed a real hazard to fast running. In what was her best performance to date Carlene Veasey came agonisingly close to the podium, finishing fourth and only a couple of seconds outside her PB in 44:35.

Her teammate Kev Wallace, having made his full marathon debut less than a fortnight previously was definitely running on tired legs and his finish time of 47:43 is not a fair reflection of where he is this season.

The final race of the festival was the Half Marathon which set off at 8:30. It only passed through fewer floods than the full marathon because it was shorter!

Ten GRC runners lined up on the start, all the more commendable given the number of no-shows at all three races, no doubt caused by people deciding it was a day to go back to bed after looking out the window.

First back for the club was Rob Howbrook, dipping just under the 100 minute mark for the second time this year with 99:36 and picking up his age group prize in the process. Next home was Catherine Payne as eighth female in 1:41:58 having dropped a couple of places with shoelace issues caused by trying to wade too fast in some of the deeper bits.

Paul Jepson was runner up to Rob’s age group win in his last few weeks as a MV 65. Next year he’ll be competing for a prize of a pound for every year of his life in the MV70 category and who would bet against him – his time of 1:53:24 was his fastest for four years.

Holly Wragg’s PB of 1:54:06 also belied the atrocious conditions but PB’s are never easy.  Sam Jepson came home just a few seconds behind her in 1:54:12 having assisted Holly with her pacing.

After a tough outing at Hose recently Craig Drury was able to get back on track with a 1:57:11 on a challenging day for spectacle wearing runners with the rain blowing under his peaked cap.

Finishing just outside the two-hour mark were Chris Moore in 2:00:41 in his first half for 5 years some 6 seconds in front of Susan Copping.

The final GRC man home was a thoroughly drenched Richard Urquhart in 2:07:09, a few minutes adrift of his 2023 time, but with what was probably a stronger performance given the conditions.

Completing the line-up was Davina Honeywood in 2:08:36 barely over a minute outside her PB also set under more race friendly conditions.

Report by Robert McArdle

Photos c/o Zoe Wragg

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