London Marathon

The 21st of April saw the 44th running of the London Marathon. The event is a highlight in the sporting calendar where the whole nation watches elite athletes and extraordinary people take part in the same gruelling event over 26.2 miles through the streets of the capital. The route takes in some of London’s best-known landmarks including Big Ben, Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, and finishes with the iconic home straight on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

The course, which has barely been changed since 1981 makes up one of the most iconic marathons in the world and is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

The year was unique for Grantham Running Club as we acquired 2 new runners from over the pond in the USA. Having previously studied at The University of Evansville (Harlaxton Manor) Brian Joyce gained his championship place in London by joining and representing GRC. This was Brian’s 3rd major and his favourite to date, having previously run New York and Boston. The race itself went to plan until the last few miles and Brian was overjoyed with his time of 2:38:24. This is a new club record for Grantham running club and Brian commented that he’d never been more proud of a race.  

Joining Brian from America was Kayla Kunz. Having also ran New York and Chicago, Kayla set out to prove herself in London and wanted a new PB. She ran the race of her life to achieve this by posting a time of 2:55:41. Describing the race as the best marathon experience she has ever witnessed from start to finish, Kayla couldn’t be more happy with how it all went. Kalya’s time was a new GRC female club record by an astonishing 22 minutes.

Having qualified with a good for age time from the previous London marathon, Russel Whittaker went into this year’s race with high hopes. His training plan hadn’t gone particularly well having a bout of illness for quite a large part of it. Russel started well and managed to keep a steady controlled pace for the first 35k. The last part of the race was much more of a struggle and Russel had to dig deep for an impressive time of 2:53:41, which was only 36 seconds down on his 2023 time.

Peter Bonner qualified for this marathon after achieving a stunning Good for Age time at Manchester in 2023, and was delighted to better that time here in London on what seemed a ‘longer course’. His 2:58:34 was 4 seconds quicker than his previous best.

Matthew Atter had run London once before and was grateful to the club for getting this year’s place through the highly sought after club ballot. Matthew has had a good run of form coming into this race and his training had been some of his most consistent for a long time. He set out at a steady pace and held this until about the 15-mile mark where he started to fade. The last 10k was all a bit of a blur, but he did manage to hold on for a 4 minute PB in a time of 3:06:58.

Training hadn’t really gone to plan for Joe Diggins, so he decided to just go for it and see what would happen. Having got to halfway in 1:30:29 Joe was running well. As expected, the second half was a bit slower and Joe enjoyed the atmosphere, commenting that it was great to see his good mate and training partner Darren Harley out on the course. Joe finished just ahead of Darren in a time of 3:17:11.

Before coming into this race, Darren Harley had vowed that this would be his last ever marathon so wanted to go out on a high. Not setting out too quick, Darren kept a nice consistent pace up until the 30k mark. As he started to slow during the latter stages Darren enjoyed the run home and took in the amazing atmosphere to finish in a great time of 3:18:58, earning him over 71% age grading.

3:54:04 is a remarkable achievement for Caroline Davis a week after also going sub 4 hours at the Manchester Marathon.

Andrea Ward claimed the second GRC ballot spot for the London marathon and decided to use the event to raise money for MIND. In total she managed to raise over £1,800. Being Andrea’s first marathon, she vowed to enjoy the experience and was very pleased with her time of 4:02:22. She wanted to give special mention to Peter Bonner, Sarah High, and Rachael Hamilton fortheire great support in training and the build up to the race.

Martin Rodell, in his first ever marathon, ran in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society and managed to raise over £1,600. His time of 4:03:06 was very pleasing and he even managed to pace his run to perfection with a negative split.

Johnny Gilbert joined the club back in January after gaining his spot in London by deciding to run for the Air Ambulance and raised over £3,500. Having never run a marathon before, Johnny set off at a steady pace and managed to hold this until about the 20-mile mark. Slowing slightly towards the end Johnny was pleased with his time of 4:05:55 and vowed to come back again as he enjoyed it that much.

Laura Pigott loved her first experience of running London. She had completed the virtual marathon previously and decided to raise money this time for the guide dogs amounting to just shy of £3,000. Laura managed to finish in a time of 4:56:24.

Dean Riggall gained his place at London through last year’s Good for Age time. However, things were more difficult this time around, having suffered through all of training with a long-term injury. This, however, didn’t put him off and he wanted to go and enjoy the experience anyway. Struggling from mile 9 onwards Dean managed to complete the course in 4:58:18.

Running buddies and best chums, Julie Gilbert and Rachel Pattison were running the London Marathon for the 10th and 8th time respectively. They continue to raise money for the charity Young Lives vs Cancer and since the marathon adventure started back in 2015 they have raised well over £55,000.

Applying the London Marathon mantra of “We Run Together”, they also started together and crossed the finish line together in just over 5 hours and 5 minutes. This is a course PB for both of them, Julie knocking 7 minutes off and Rachel a chunky 16 minutes, both delighted with the time given that they stopped on Tower Bridge for almost a full-blown picnic with their support crew.

London was Emma Hopkinson’s 2nd marathon having also completed London in 2023. Although training had not gone to plan due to various life commitments, Emma completed the course in 5:22:07.

As always, the organisation, support and sheer magic of the event made for a fantastic day.

Once again London did the whole country proud. The crowds were amazing and the atmosphere was as incredible as ever. The whole London marathon experience was a joy for all taking part whether you has a specific time to target or just wanted to get round to the finish.

All finishers were treated to a rather special medal and a t-shirt for their efforts, and a massive sense of achievement.

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