The final Sunday in April dawned warm and sunny as large numbers of runners from Grantham made their way the short distance past Bourne to the lovely village of Langtoft. The playing fields were hosting the 31st edition of what is becoming an increased rarity, a well-organised volunteer-led road race with its roots in the local community.
The fundraising volunteer nature of the event did not show in the organisation, which was excellent, nor the results, which were supported by professional chip timing. It did show in the friendly volunteers, whether that was the smiling teenagers handing out numbers at the start, the supportive marshals around the course or the very enthusiastic commentator taking part in his final event. It also showed in the relatively large number of people who came out of their houses to watch as the runners passed by.
The main 10k event was preceded by a 3 kilometre fun run, which added to the family atmosphere and meant that all ages could take part and enjoy the event. There was also a sizeable contingent who clearly hadn’t recovered from Easter, with multiple runners in both races dressed as chickens and eggs.
The first runner back for Grantham Running Club was Peter Bonner in a personal best of 38:11, knocking 50 seconds off his previous best from Doncaster in the Autumn. Peter was particularly pleased with this because it came just two weeks after he achieved a marathon PB, breaking the 3 hour mark for the first time. After the event Peter was enthusiastic about the flat, friendly course and recommends taking part in the next event.
Also particularly happy with their run were two other achievers of personal bests. Holly Wragg knocked two minutes off her result from Doncaster last year and was particularly pleased with the day. Laura Pigott continued her run of improving races over the last year, having knocked over ten minutes off her results since July.
The first GRC woman home was Penny Hodges in a time of 44:41 which was also a season’s best, spurred on by Tony Johnson, followed closely by Paul Davis, chasing her in the final stages through the village. The next two women home were Rachel Hamilton and Nicola Rushton-Lichfield, who ran most of the way together but struggled with the heat (Rachel) and a blister (Nicola).
Twenty-one runners achieved season best results at the race, though as one of them said, it’s hard to feel that the race is an achievement when you get overtaken by a man dressed as a chicken!
The race was won by Joe Wilkinson from Bingley Harriers who finished with a time of 31:18, some 2 and a half minutes ahead of the rest of the 290 runners. Scott Cameron finished second and local resident Thomas Preston who is just 16 years old came third with an amazing run to take the prestigious title of first Langtoft resident. The first woman home was Chloe Tyler from Peterborough and Nene Valley athletics club with an impressive time at 39 minutes.
Report by Peter Bonner