Jonny Palmer, Apr 19

As alluded to in the March MotM write up, April 2019 was a pretty spectacular month for Grantham Running Club – arguably the best in terms of superlative performances in its history. To make the ‘shortlist’ of nominations required a performance that would, in many instances, all but assure winning a Member of the Month title in any other month.
Moreover, there were many other runners who were deserving of nomination, especially the many runners who made their marathon debut, but to keep the list manageable tough decisions had to be made and some, unfortunately, didn’t quite make the cut.

April is, for many, marathon month, but there were a number of fine performances over less than 26.2 miles that were deserving of nomination. Samuel Jepson-Rivers received a nomination for his four minute PB at the Belvoir Half Marathon; Joaquim Jeronimo was nominated for his first official sub 40 minute 10K and near two minute PB 38:11 at the Lincoln 10K; and Rob Howbrook was nominated too for his 39:45 at the same race, a performance that saw him win the MV60 age category and set a new men’s club age grade record of 83.98%.

January’s Member of the Month Ian Williams was nominated for his 34:47, also at the Lincoln 10K, which ranked him
#2 in the club’s all-time 10K tables. At the Boston Half Marathon, Ian became just the third GRC runner (And the second as a first claim member of the club) to break eighty minutes with his 1:19:49 PB. Joe Clarke, who ran strongly at the Lincoln 10K, was nominated specifically for two fine off-road performances, finishing fourth at the Longhorn 10K and sixth in the Bourne Run in the Woods.

All but one of the remaining nominees took part in at least one marathon in April. After five failed attempts, Matthew Williamson finally smashed his PB by over seven minutes at the Boston Marathon, his 3:07:29 a great time considering the windy conditions. At the same race March’s Member of the Month Adam Wasiołka ran a fine 3:22:49, but it was his back-to-back marathons on the same day at the Phoenix Day and Knight Excalibur event a week earlier, where he finished first and third respectively and both in under four hours, that earned him a nomination.

The Manchester and London Marathons hosted the remainder of those nominated for their marathon exploits. February’s MOM Caroline Davis ran both of them, bettering her PB by just under six minutes in a London ‘Good For Age’ securing 3:44:21, then running just four minutes slower in London itself. Nicola Cottam was nominated not just for bettering her PB at Manchester by seven minutes but by doing so with a significant negative split – the Holy Grail of a great marathon performance. Catherine Payne had to wait a week for her official London Marathon time. 3:19:57 was a superb time, especially considering the serious injury she suffered in 2018. It may well prove to be the fastest marathon time by a GRC woman in 2019 and yielded an exceptionally high marathon age grade of 83.67%.

To run 3:09:00 at a marathon is a fine performance. To do so in your marathon debut is superb. That Dan Ancliffe achieved this in his FIRST EVER race over any distance (and at an enviously young age!) is, to this seasoned runner, simply staggering and perhaps one of the best ever performances by a GRC runner. Quite some way apart in the experience spectrum, Tony Johnson warmed up for the London Marathon by running 1:24:10 at the Belvoir Half Marathon, less than a minute outside his 2010 PB and the culmination of a string of races that brought the veteran runner into fantastic shape. Only two club members had previously broken three hours over the marathon while first claim with the club, Tony became the third with a sublime 2:59:42, his first sub-3 in five years.

Joint runner-up for April Member of the Month was Matthew Kingston-Lee, who clocked his twelfth sub-3 hour marathon at Manchester and his fastest to date, setting a new club record 2:40:47. The other runner up was Sarah Chynoweth, who prepared for her May marathon with a great victory at the Belvoir Half Marathon in a time of 1:28:24, becoming the second fastest GRC woman over 13.1 miles and just the third to break ninety minutes for the half.

The winner of April Member of the Month is directly and indirectly linked to both runners-up. Sarah’s partner Jonny Palmer, ‘fresh’ from his 50 Mile Ultra victory in Chester, headed to the London Marathon in great form and ran a sensational race, bettering his old PB by over seven minutes and breaking Matthew’s three-week-old club record
with 2:37:43.

It is worth mentioning that not only are Jonny and Matthew linked by being GRC marathon club record holders, they have both set (and currently hold) club records while being second claim members of the club. With plans afoot to possibly bring club records into parity with club championships policy in relation to second claim membership, it remains to be seen how the club records table will look when they are next updated. What is certain though is that
Jonny’s fantastic performance was fully deserving of the accolade of Grantham Running Club April 2019 Member of the Month. Congratulations to Jonny!

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