Julie Braker, Sept 18

With the voting panel (the club’s committee) being disbanded, only to be formed again, in a new, larger form, after the AGM, September’s GRC Member of the Month came perilously close to being a historical look back at events in the distant past. Fortunately a winner was found just before Halloween in addition to the usual array of worthy nominations not forgetting, of course, that there were plenty more who could and perhaps should have been considered too – especially those who took part in the Equinox 24 where, for the most part, the efforts of one runner couldn’t be singled out over the performances of the teams as a whole.

Taking part in his first marathon Russell Love was nominated for finishing the multi-terrain Rutland Marathon in a highly creditable 3:47:18. Chris Steven (Limmer) was also nominated for his exploits around the large man-made mass of water; his second place in the marathon an excellent achievement and all the more memorable for the dramatic late sprint at the finish to secure the runner-up spot.

Tony Johnson had another outstanding month to be nominated for the fourth time in 2018. He took part in four half marathons through September, finishing second in his age category at three of them. In the weekend where he didn’t race a half marathon, Tony ran the Market Rasen 10K multi terrain race and won his age group!

May 2018 Member of the Month winner Matthew Kingston-Lee took part in his first race since suffering the curse that sometimes afflicts winners of such prestigious monthly awards when he got himself properly injured at the Woodhall Spa 10K at the beginning of June. He celebrated his return to fitness by winning the Two Counties Half Marathon. He also finished second at the Stathern Duathlon, but as that also involves a bike and he represented Belvoir Tri Club (He became their Duathlon Club Champion) it wasn’t spoken about by the running club!

Edina Burns was one of many who bagged a parkrun PB at Rutland Water when the club used the venue as a round of the GRC GP Series, but it was her determination to break 30 minutes for the first time over 5K that stood out to those who were at the event and the nominators for MOM. September also saw Edina become one of our latest run leaders and has led her group of 11-12 minute mile runners with great enthusiasm.

Maxine Noble made her race debut with the club at the Bassingham Bash 5 mile race and finished with an excellent time of 40:14. After bagging a podium spot at the Grimsthorpe Castle 3K, she followed that up the following weekend with a superb third overall and winner of her age category at the midday 10K race that supported the Equinox 24.

Runner up for September was Jack Dodwell. Jack, who is preparing himself for a debut spring 2019 marathon, saw the benefits of increased mileage in training yield a big new PB of 1:36:49 at the Windsor Half Marathon. This fine result came just a week after he was one of the eight who finished third out of the 120 large teams at the Equinox 24 Hour Race at Belvoir Castle. He celebrated this success by joining the club’s committee at the AGM!

The Member of the Month for September 2018 has, by now, perhaps become used to the superlatives thrown at her during her year spent with GRC. Like most others the heat adversely affected Julie Braker at the rescheduled Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon, yet she still won her age group and was the twentieth woman to finish. A rare foray away from the Melton Mowbray parkrun to take part in the GP Series Rutland Water parkrun on September 15th saw Julie run a sensational PB of 24:10 which gave her a club record age grade of 92.12%.

Two weeks later at the Robin Hood Half Marathon in Nottingham Julie ran a brilliant 1:49:23. This gave her an age grade of 90.53%, fractionally outside her own club record for a road race of 90.69% which she ran at the 2017 Leicester Half Marathon. Perhaps more excitingly now that Julie has reached her eight decade of life, she currently sits second for 2018 on the UK V70 rankings for half marathon and seventh ‘All Time!’

A caveat to ‘All Time’ on the Power of 10 website should be that this actually should read ‘since 2009’ and a very select number of other races. However to rank so highly over one of the country’s most popular road race distances for at least the past decade or so is, undoubtedly, outstanding.

Julie currently lies second in the 2018 Half Marathon V70 rankings to Angela Copson, who most of you won’t have heard of, but is almost undeniably the best female masters distance runner in the world currently and arguably will be seen as the greatest of all time. I came to know her because she took up running in 2006 at the age of 59, joined Rugby and Northampton AC and quickly established a fearsome reputation as the ‘pensioner’ who would regularly beat good male club runners half her age at races in the West Midlands and would be the nemesis of a similarly aged friend of my former running club, who would almost always finish second in her age group to Copson.

Angela has gone on to be multiple British, European and World Masters Champion (and record holder) from distances ranging from 800 meters to the Marathon. Her performances are so good (her best track age grade on Power of 10 is 109.63%) she was excluded from consideration when the WMA age grade factors were revised for 2015 as being an ‘outlier’ – too good to be taken into account!

With the bulk of the country’s half marathons for 2018 now run and to be currently second only to Angela Copson in her age category is a fantastic accomplishment – she could well be #1 in pretty much any other country in the world! Congratulations to Julie on being Grantham Running Club Member of the Month for September 2018!

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