Hannah Whittaker, Aug 2022

Salutations once again my dear ol’ things!

As the summer wore on, the hectic schedule of athletics reached its zenith at the European Championships. Once again GRC’s own performances mirrored the endeavours of the rising starlight’s in World Athletics.

Round Up

Starting us off this month, The Dovedale Dipper. A testing trail event for runners and walkers in the Peak District National Park popular with the ultra/off-road/self-navigation types.

Eight took to the Peaks to run, walk, climb, crawl and scale the (unsurprisingly) undulating course. Seven “wimped” out with the ‘Little Dipper’ at 15 miles – Kate Marshall, Fraser Marshall, Mark Rice, Sylv Hull, Wayne Baxter, Yvonne Buckley and CJ Walker. 

All thoroughly enjoyed the stunning countryside with plenty of mirth and camaraderie.

The ever-green and hardiest of the lot, Andrew MacAllister took on the full 26 mile ‘Big Dipper’ completing it in 05:54:53.

Somewhat more locally, the returning Newark Half Marathon was once again held in warm conditions. The relentless summer heat was against runners from the offset and little respite or refuge could be found on the unsheltered course.

Mercifully, the organizers had the sense to provide extra water stations to aid the baking runners.

A band of five from GRC; Matthew Williamson (01:32:18), Robin Atter (01:44:18), Nicola Ruston-Litchfield (1:54:03) her husband Richard Ruston-Litchfield (2:08:07) and 2nd claim Chris Limmer (Chris Steven) (01:33:36) were all long way off their recorded best, but all very happy given the aforementioned conditions. 

Williamson’s the standout performance given it was his first half marathon in 9 months following a mojo-lacking start to the year. 

Round Twelve of our GRC Grand Prix series – the Sleaford 10k held at the village of Scredington, a small way east of Grantham.

As with Newark, it was a returning race, popular on the local scene, not least for the delectable selection of cakes for each runner should they choose… I’ll give you a clue: ALL choose to partake!

A fairly flat ‘L’ shaped course, initially heads toward Helpringham and then takes in the curiously named Burton Pedwardine before a long stretch back to Scredington. The recent conditions rendered the landscape resembling a scene from Spain rather that rural Lincolnshire! 

Twenty-three made the trip in the stifling summer heat with Dean Riggall leading the charge home with a very commendable 39:57.

In close order were Peter Bonner (41:27), June MoTM Daniel Pearce (41:52) and July MoTM Stefan Latter (41:55).

Holly Durham was the first lady in a time of 43:10. Taking 2nd place in her age category. 

Richard Payne’s return to form, fitness and motivation took another positive step forward with a pleasing 44:23.

Phillip Crowcroft also continues to gain in statue as he claimed a PB in 45:43.

After a conservative start, Richard Urquhart also neatly bagged a personal best of 55:31.

Sleaford seems nice… we might return… *winky emoji*

But for now, we venture to Ferry Meadows for the conclusion of the Peterborough 5k Series.

In previous years this has been one of the quickest courses, but due to a Multi-Terrain ‘MT’ rating no official 5k Pb’s can be claimed…

First back of the nine GRC’ers, 2nd claim Alex Curtis smashed a fantastic 17:45 – a first time under 18 minutes for the distance. 

Sam Dodwell meteoric year seems to know no bounds as he ran an excellent 18:44, the first time under 19 minutes for the distance. 

Peter Bonner in running 19:26 matched his season best time set at Newstead Abbey 5k and was his fastest time of the series.

As alluded to earlier, Richard Payne’s form seems newly enriched (geddit?), improving by 2 minutes throughout the series and clocking a notable 19:44 in this closing gambit. 

Rob Howbrook(20:29) returned his fastest time of the series and finalised a fine age category win in a competitive field.

Naomi Rivers (23:58) was the first lady back for GRC, even with a shoelace malfunction completing a brilliant comeback series improving with every race.

Sylv Hull’s fantastic 24:26, a would be a 3 second PB set in 2021, also fell victim to the multi-terrain grading. She was, nevertheless, chuffed to improve with each race. 

Julia Hallam’s 31:12 improved upon her seasons best also from the Newstead Abbey 5k.

The Castle Rock 10k race, Sponsored by Castle Rock Brewery – a two tough multi-terrain 5k laps of University Park in Nottingham saw two GRC members taking part, Robin Atter and Marj Spendlow.

Robin having only completed the Newark half marathon 5 days hence, had no designs on going too hard. Clocking 44:40 he was happy enough.

Marj was happy running again after an enforced break thanks to TR24, completed the course in 55:58, Again, happy to get under the hour for a hilly multi terrain course.

Finally, RAF Museum Spitfire 10k attracted sole GRC runner; Daniel Pearce.

Taking place at RAF Hendon Airfield the route heads out onto the streets of North London for 2 laps.

More poignantly, every runner is given the name of Pilots or Crew who played a part in the Battle of Britain in the late Summer of 1940.

Daniel ran in memory of Flying Officer Claude Waller Goldsmith of 603 Squadron based at RAF Hornchurch. He was just 23 when he was shot down in October 1940.

Pleased with his time of 42:41, the running was secondary to the cause.

Author’s note – I’ll let you in to a little secret: the debate for this Months Runner Up and eventual winner waged on for a few evenings. It took three rounds of voting, and we still have a tie!

All have endured setbacks of various reasons recently, but all ‘came out swinging’ at the Sleaford 10k.)

Runner Up

Firstly, showing patience, discipline and general graft during the rehabilitation of a long-term knee injury is something to be admired.

Frustrations during a lengthy diagnostic process could well defeat one not so bloody-minded. But his resolve is clearly evident.

“Slowly, slowly catchy Monkey” they say… slowly, slowy build up mileage and running strength too.

Even high-altitude training (a strava/watch malfunction joke!) was thrown in the mix.

Starting the 10k at Screddington with perhaps understandable reserve, he continually went up through the gears, each mile quicker than the last.

He even mustered a pleasing sprint for the line as he clocked: 45:11, a new Pb of in the bank. Eclipsing the hitherto existing Pb set in October of 2018!

The first of the August Runner Up’s: Matt Fryer

So, tying for Runner Up, but with an injury comeback story of her own next.

Hark back to the colder, wetter months and the completion a long, well-structured Marathon training block: More miles = tick. Long runs = tick. Effort sessions = tick.

Cruelly, during the taper, less than two weeks to the Manchester Marathon saw A diagnosis of a stress fracture in her foot!

 Again, showing discipline and strength in adversity shows the colour of her character. 

A long rest and patient rehabilitation over the early summer has seen her comeback possibly stronger than ever with an upward trajectory still ahead! A 5k Pb, a parkrun Pb and a confidence boosting TR24 lay the foundations for Sleaford 10k.

Consistently paced despite the heat, her 54:05 crowned a 5 second PB over the arguably faster course at Leeds Abbey Dash in 2021.

Our second August Runner Up: Zoë Wragg

August Member of the Month

For a little while now, this runner has been steadily getting better and better.

Hannah Whittaker, Rutland 10k, 2023

Dedicated, meticulous in training and preparation and selective – it’s a formula that works for her.

Not to mention, her modesty, to the point of shyness, it’s time for us to shine the Super Trouper on her this month!

Maybe she might realise, a.) just how good she is and b.) how well respected she is.

As mentioned, she quietly turns up at a few select races in the calendar and, well for want of a better expression; bloody smashes each and every one!

The Sleaford 10k the scene of her latest triumph in what, I’m sure, is nowhere near the summit of what she is capable of.

After jostling for space and finding her rhythm in mile two, she used every bit of grit to tick the Lion’s share of the race, miles 3 – 6 in a remarkable show of pacing. Indeed her ‘slowest’ mile (after the first mile) and quickest were separated by a mere 6 seconds.

As the finish line approached, she rallied even more to find an extra yard to post a fantastic 45:45.

It represents a magic 50 seconds improvement on the Winter Solstice of December 2021, a 1 minute 49 second course record too!

All this in temperatures exceeding 25°C for an evening race.

She can claim the family bragging rights this month to boot:

GRC, let’s hear your cheers for August Member of the Month: Hannah Whittaker

Great work Hannah!

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