XC Round Up
The beginning of November sees one of the highlights of the XC calendar; The National Relays held at Berry Hill Park in Mansfield. I’ve previously waxed lyrical about the stirring scene that greets runners. Fast, frantic, muddy good fun. The ladies run in teams of three each covering a testing 3km lap. Placing 111th in a fiercely competitive field, it represented a solid effort. Rachel Hamilton (James Hamilton) the quickest of the team in 13:04. Fielding two senior men’s teams, running 4 x 5km laps each, the A team placed 146th/198 with fine runs from a resurgent Matthew Williamson – 22:17 and Richard Payne – 22:24 also in fine fettle. B team’s fastest runner was anchor runner Jason Walker (23:23). The team placing 163rd.
That weekend saw a veritable feast for Cross-Country (where proper runners are made!).
The day after The Relays, saw Round 2 of the Lincs League. A lucky troop of thirteen made the trip to Lincoln’s South Common where it was distinctly Autumnal, a fresh morning with heavy dewfall. With charging horses a legitimate obstacle/threat/sight to behold the men kicked things off; three laps round the challenging and hilly course. The first team consisted of Peter Bonner (27th) Gav Meadows (32nd) and Robin Atter (42nd), with Peter Jennings, Paul Davis, Warren Stark close behind in the second team and Andrew MacAllister and Paul Jepson (Paul Lenton) completing the field. In the women’s race, first home for the club was Rachel Hamilton in a fantastic 7th, her run made even more impressive considering the Relays not 24 hours before. With seasoned cross-country duo of Sarah High in 20th and Caroline Davis in 23rd, the team was completed by Vicki Hardy in 25th and Kate Marshall in 31st.
Later in the month, West Glebe Park in Corby was the venue for the second North Midlands Cross Country League fixture. First home for the GRC men was the ever-impressive Rob Howbrook securing him second place in his age category. Paul Davis followed putting in a strong performance. Chasing Paul was ultra-runner Andrew MacAllister. Craig G Drury, returning to fitness, brought the team home with a typical gutsy performance. In the ladies race a ding-dong for the ages saw Caroline Davis and Sarah High battling it out to finish just 3 seconds apart, Caroline taking the first ladies spot in 30:34, with Sarah in 30:37 securing third place in her category. Hayley Sugden put in a sterling effort in her first race for a long time, following knee surgery.
Life is a Roller Coaster…
Twenty-nine thrill seekers descended on the Alton Towers 10k race. A unique prospect, the race started and finished amongst the rides in the estate with the route following paths and roads within the extensive grounds. Never a dull moment through, the undulating course (if you’ve ever been, you know what I mean) provided an interesting race for most. Peter Bonner was first home for GRC was in an impressive 41:34, keenly tracked by Robin Atter (42:11) and Richard Payne in 43:37. First GRC lady home was Nicola Ruston-Litchfield in an impressive 43:55. Sam Dodwell (44:59) Kevin Kettle (45:39), Richard Ruston-Litchfield (49:10) and comfortably under 50-minutes was Stuart Baty in 49:19. A flurry followed; Anthony Boyle (52:07), Dale Towning (53:07), Naomi Rivers (53:27),) and Rachel Pattison (54:51), Julie Gilbert (55:28) and Martin Carter (55:50). A returning Vicki Ball was happy to finish in 57:13 followed by Alison Clark in 57:38. Holly Durham and Penny Hodges ran together to both finish in 58:17 and were followed by Kate Marshall (59:22) and Wayne Baxter (1:00:58). A brave Nicola Cottam fell before the race but rallied to finish in 1:03:21 with Fraser Marshall (1:03:29), Rosalind Sadler (1:04:25) and Jaqueline Jacobs (1:08:54) closely behind. Finally, running together, were Julia Hallam (1:16:58), Cj Walker Lees (1:17:02) and Kathleen Gray (1:17:03).
The perfect remedy for lactic acid and depleted electrolytes is? Smashing as many rollercoasters as you can! A large, thrill-seeking GRC contingent promising to return next year.
Slightly further afield, GRC’s intrepid globetrotter, Nev Chamberlain took part in the Tbilisi Hills 14km trail race. Completing the tough hilly course in 1.39:12 placed 56th. Initially disappointed he learned he was the oldest in the race by seven years which sweetened his mood!
(I’m sure I’ve used the line before, but it’s so witty, I love it) Two little dickie birds.. Peter Jennings and Paul Rushworth travelled to the iconic Peak District to participate in the annual Six Dales Circuit event. The route takes in… err.. Six Dales and is, as you’d expect, as beautifully scenic, but tough near marathon distance event. Peter and Paul navigated together, returning home in four hours and 44 minutes.
In a poignant run, on Remembrance Sunday, two travelled to Boston for the Annual Poppy 10k Run, with race proceeds donated to the Royal British Legion. Atmospheric to the last, A heavy fog lingered throughout. Paul Jepson was first to the line for GRC, recording 51:33. Richard Urquhart next in 55:06. Both supporting a cause close to their hearts as an ex-serviceman and a serving member of the Armed Forces.
Every so often, the weather gamble of a Winter race pays off. And so it was, the Gainsborough and Morton 10k; perfect conditions greeted the four members taking part. Normally, held in the Springing of the year it promises a flat, fast course. Occasionally blighted by breezy sections. First over the line for GRC was Daniel Pearce who continues to go from strength to strength, earning himself a new PB with a time of 40:44. Holly Durham stormed home in a fantastic time of 40:49, adding to her multiple tally of PBs this year! Prolific racer, Robin Atter followed in 41:28 and Penny Hodges ran fantastically to post 44:25, it placed her 2nd in her category… behind one Holly Durham!
One of the more popular smaller races in the whole country, the famous Southwold 10k sells out quickly. Maybe it’s the unique course, cheering crowds or the lip-smacking pint rewarded afterward by sponsors Adnams. Two firm GRC pals were quick off the drawer to enter.
As with last year, the rain that plagued runners stopped moments before the race proper, however, the bitter wind continued unabated, and the heavy overnight rainfall left sections littered with large deep puddles.
Stuart Baty was the first of the GRC friends in, a season best of 48:46. Simon Hartley running his first 10k of the year finished in 01:06:47.
Robert McArdle was their sole entrant in this year’s Hatfield 5. Growing over the years, it’s become a flagship event in Hertfordshire and beyond. Although the course has the potential to be fast in the right conditions, flooding hampered the athletes. A narrow start further aggravated Robert and he was never able to make up the time lost and was pleased to finish in 37:27.
Finally, twenty-one set out for Doncaster to run 10k to see out the month, for many the last crack of the yearlong club GP series whip. A morning drizzle cleared in perfect time to allow for great running conditions. Starting and ending at the famous old racecourse, it was symbolic of the fine racing about to occur. First home was Peter Bonner in a sublime 39:01. This was Peter’s targeted ‘A race’, meticulous in preparation, he was left delighted as it went even better than he planned. For his efforts; a 10k PB and an age grading 76%. Second home Robin Atter, back to near his best. He enjoyed the race and was pleased with his season’s best 10k. Next over the line was Sam Dodwell in 41:17, bettering his 2019 time by almost two minutes. Nicola Ruston-Litchfield, the first lady, ran a superb 42:40. She pushed hard and despite the hill at 8k, came home with a 10k PB. Alan Carley shook off recent niggles to run a pleasing time of 42:57, a morale-boosting seasons best. Ever improving, Cameron Hoggan was next in a time of 43:45 which was also a PB. Penny Hodges (44:15) enjoyed achieving her best time in seven years. Likewise, Paul Davis ran his quickest 10k in years, coming in at 45:57. Richard Litchfield came next in 47:18, followed by Dale Towning running an almost two-minute PB in a fantastic breakthrough time of 47:48. He was left, rightly, thrilled with his race. Caroline Davis (49:00) and Paul Jepson (50:17) both happy with their end of year gambits. Julie Gilbert’s clocking of 51:09 left her chuffed to bag a very unexpected PB. Sarah High’s (51:55) struggles in the last 3k, seemingly not preventing her best 10k since 2018. The PB train kept rolling, Rachel Pattison bagging her own surprising PB, finishing in 52:19 it was a sublime run and one minute 43 seconds improvement over the recent PB at Lincoln 10k. A determined Sylv Hull was pleased to complete her first 10k in weeks in 1:02:03. Yvonne Buckley was pleased with her time of 1:02:39, equally Julia Hallam was happy to finish the year with a season’s best of 1:07:00, and Brendon Buckley happy to clock 1:10:23.
A multitude of organisational reasons along with fine running make this an attractive prospect in 2023.
As with most months, we are blown away by the depth of performances across the club. So much so, that November’s short list was, in fact, not that short. Keep making our job hard folks!
In what is a recent case of ‘ever the bridesmaid…’ this month’s Runner Up has continued her (re)growth in the latter stages of the year. Gaining respect early in the month and maintaining it throughout all of November, she started boldly by stepping out of her comfort zone into the frenetic world of Cross Country. The National Relays, no less! It was her debut XC race for the club, normally favouring roads. No matter, her determination, club spirit and dare I say it ‘enjoyment’ at the end, clear to see. A few weeks later was the first of two 10k PB’s in as many weeks.
Remarkably, the first at a challenging and undulating Alton Towers course. With over 400ft of elevation the 22 second PB was unexpected but ever-so-sweet, the final time: 53:43. Flash forwards a little over two weeks to Doncaster and despite the uphill drag towards the end, she ran the race of her running career to date, clocking a 53-minute busting 52:54. 49 seconds quicker than Alton Towers.
November’s Runner Up is Zoë Wragg.
November Member of the Month
Remember, Remember the 5th November?
That’s how this runner’s fine month started. Most will know that Belton House parkrun isn’t that easy in the late Autumn/Winter time. Often wet, slippery and rutted, it’s also chucks in about three or four surface types. Testing. Such is the upsurge in her running of late, that she not only ‘slightly improved’ her hitherto parkrun best, but she smashed it to smithereens with a one-minute 28 second improvement from Rutland Water earlier in the year. A double 10k Pb was the crowning glory of a fantastic month. I’ve touched on just how unique the course at Alton Towers is in pure running terms, undulating – the classic runners term for ‘hills galore’, tight turns and multiple surfaces make it hard to settle in to your work. Her race flies in the face of that and shows an inner grit. Not only did she reach a target of sub-60, she cruised well past that to improve her pb by three and half minutes!
Doncaster was the scene for her final triumph – the 8k lumpy bit notwithstanding, she paced the race beautifully to further reduce her best time by another 35 seconds to post: 57:22. Imagine how well she would’ve done had she not been unwell the 24 hours prior to the race?!
November Member of the Month
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you November’s Member of the Month; Holly Wragg.
Congratulations the Sisters Wragg and all mentioned!