Joe Diggins, Oct 21

Well now, dear Constant Reader, may I be the first to colourise a picture of a simply outstanding October for GRC? It certainly jumps out as one of the best months for quite some time.

Such was the sheer volume and level of achievement, it’s fair to say deciding a winner has proven to be one of the most thoroughly debated choices in recent memory.

(I also feel it pertinent to state that as result, it does mean that I won’t be able to cover many that would ordinarily be in receipt of rich and deserving praise. I can only apologise wholeheartedly!)

Perhaps in no small part thanks to the world we now find ourselves in, it seems October was THE pique month for many. It just got better and bigger with every passing week!

PBs weren’t just beaten – but they lay bloody and bruised in the wake of some remarkable feats of running. 

Without much further ado, shall we begin?

Arguably the most famous road race in the world, one of the flagship events of the sporting Calendar: The 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon got things nicely underway in the early days of October.

22 Members of GRC joined the crowd of 40,000 strong runners that made the pilgrimage to the Capital. In what is probably one of the biggest symbolic victims of the Coronavirus pandemic the VLM had served a near 900-day hiatus since it’s last recongnisable incarnation. 

Near optimal conditions welcomed runners and the famous course, chocked full of landmarks at every turn, played host to some fine running.

Piers Pye-Watson was first back for GRC with a sublime time of 2:57:18.

Club ballot winner Matthew Atter caught the eye and first part of his nomination with a 6-minute PB of 3:11:28. He would bolster this with his second marathon in <7 days at Manchester. Running aside he also raised over £1,000 for Don’t Lose Hope, a mental health charity.

Warren Stark would emulate Matthew with ‘the double’. He posted times of 3:58:26 at London and 4:18:27 at Manchester. His London run his best in over 8 years.

The last of ‘The Double’ runners, the superbly consistent Caroline Davis (Paul Davis) had just 21 seconds change between her two gambits. 3:56:17 and 3:56:38 respectively. 

Zoë Wragg made her official marathon debut after completing it virtually last year. She would also utilise the training completed over the summer to make a strong 10k debut at the Leeds Abbey Dash – clocking 54:10 and turning in a well-judged run at the Lincoln 10k in 54:32 in ghastly conditions.

If London whet the appetite for autumn marathons then Manchester provided the veritable cherry on the cake.

The streets of the Cottonopolis set the scene for no less than 9 nominations or performances that would contribute to nominations.

Apparently ageless, Dean Riggall ran a personal best in 3:01:28 to flirt with sub 3 hours.

Hannah San Jose paced her race to perfection to smash 4 hours for the first time and run a 15 minute+ PB.

Suzanne Angeloni set a near 48 (Yes that says ‘forty eight’) minute PB to clock 5:13:46 and exceed an age grading of 50%.

Ladies captain, Cross Country addict and all-round fine runner, Sarah High started the astonishing multi-PB trend that neatly summarises the sublime October across the board.

She started by clocking 4:04:27 – an age grading of 74.34% – at Manchester and took that momentum in to the Grand Prix parkrun round held at Rutland Water later in the month to blaze 24:12. Setting a new age grade best of 77.96% in the process.

September Member of the Month winner Aaron Smith bettered the previous month with a scarcely believable string of racing. Marathon PB: check. 10k PB: check. 5k PB: check. He also completed Manchester to boot.

Aaron’s 10k at Leeds Abbey Dash and 5k at Mallory Park were the exact venues for Samuel Jepson’s pair of PB’s set a week apart and his nomination.

Again bettering his September, Alex Curtis eclipsed the clubs fastest half marathon time of the year by 1 second to clock 01:25:24 at Cambridge. In doing so he also broke the top 50 in UK rankings in the Under 20 age category.

Cambridge also the backdrop for the first of Kate Marshall’s triple PB exploits. A 4-minute improvement on her half time resulted in a 02:06:45. Like Sarah, she carried that form on the parkrun at Rutland Water. A 48 second improvement on her previous parkrun best resulted in a fine 27:24.

Rounding out the month Lincoln was next on her list: 56:22 a fab run in… ‘unhelpful’ conditions.

Phew! That, Constant Reader, was just the shortlist…

Frankly, the winner and runner-up of October’s MoTM were separated by a fine margin – speaking crudely; it came down to a knat’s bollock!

Both ran at Manchester. Both set multiple distance PB’s amid a fruitful purple patch. Both bloody spiffing gents if you ask me!

Starting with a ridiculous 2 hour and 50-minute improvement on his marathon time set at London in the record-breaking heat of April 2018. Composure and tenacity throughout, a result of dedicated summer milage, was the picture of his Manchester marathon.

He rightfully was very pleased to clock a very credible 03:40:52.

Clearly loving his time in the north-west and back later in the month at Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Half Marathon, he was still briming with the confidence gained from Manchester to again set about his work. Turning in 01:35:40 and bettering his previous best by over 3-minutes.

With the sun setting on October, there was still chance for one last race. Perhaps it’s of poetic justice that to suit the Halloween date, the racing conditions were ‘frightening’ for the Asda Foundation City of Lincoln 10k. No matter though, as once again a PB was bested.

His 41:57 a 1 minute and 18-second improvement from Doncaster 10k in 2019.

The runner up of October’s Member of the Month is: Sam Dodwell.

Super, Smashing, Great Sam!

It truly is a testament to just how hard he has worked, that the times posted throughout October were almost incomprehensible just 12 months ago for this month’s Winner of Member of the Month.

A phenomenal Manchester marathon started the ball rolling.

Determination, application, and a liberal dash of grit resulted in a superb clocking of 03:00:08 to finish first for GRC on the day – A 52 minute 32-second enhancement on his marathon time by the way.

Rutland Water was next in his sights. Conditions aligned and boy did he make them count leading the pack, leading GRC and exercising 18 minutes in one fell swoop; he clocked a fine 17:52.

Good runners don’t rest on their laurels and the same can be said of this month’s winner.

The wild and wonderful conditions at Lincoln were paid no heed as he smashed his previous best by over 3 minutes to clock a 37 minute busting 36:54.

October Member of the Month

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding for the October Member of the Month: Joe Diggins.

Congratulations, Joe! Absolutely stunning performances.

Well done to all nominated and all who achieved in their running throughout October.

I know of no fewer than 50 PB’s recorded. Blimey-O-Riley!!

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