Grantham Running Club had 14 members join the 24,000 strong field for this year’s Manchester Marathon which doubled up as the English Commonwealth Games trials. Starting and finishing at the Old Trafford Cricket stadium, the race began in cold, near freezing temperatures. Setting off in waved starts, the growing piles of discarded clothing that runners were ditching as they ran through the start was evidence of the unusually cold temperatures on the day. However, as the race got going runners had the full benefit of ideal racing conditions with no wind to hamper their progress. Heading into the city centre for the early miles, runners then ran southwest towards Sale and Altrincham, before turning around to head northeast towards the finish at the famous cricket ground.
The fastest on the day was the ever-improving Joe Diggins. After finishing last year’s race an agonising 8s beyond the magical 3hr mark, he put this year’s race in no doubt. Being less cautious, he attacked the race from the off and just ran as he felt. Blasting through halfway, well ahead of target, he ran a brilliant 2nd half to secure an outstanding PB time of 2:56:49. This placed him 3rd on the all-time GRC list.
Next was an outstanding debut run from the talented Russel Whittaker. On his birthday of all days, a confident sub 3hr run was never in any doubt. Russel finished with 2:58:13 and will certainly go faster in races to come.
Next up, in arguably the story of the day, was Sam Jepson in what was supposed to be a taster marathon where he dropped out at halfway. Passing his planned dropout point, the untrained and underprepared Sam just kept going to see how he felt. Claiming the 2nd half of the race to be a complete blur, he just kept running and running. Knowing an unimaginable sub 3hr race was on the cards, he sprinted the finish straight to make it certain, eventually crossing the line with 2:59:50. Food for thought for Sam who’s never seriously considered marathons before.
Then came seasoned marathon runner Andrew Pask, who loves the longer distances. Hoping to go close to the 3hr mark he struggled from 30k and had to grind out the remaining distance to clock 3:06:42, his 2nd fastest marathon.
Richard Brewer was next with an outstanding 12min PB time of 3:11:32 in only his 2nd marathon. Darren Harley followed in his first marathon in at least 15 years. Darren, who isn’t a frequent racer, used his years of experience to pace a race well, clocking 3:16:25.
Impressive marathon debuts were made by; Peter Bonner – 3:19:17, Rick Dobbs – 4:20:44 and Phil Crowcroft – 4:33:39.
Veteran marathon and ultra runner Chris Limmer decided to race this event for Bliss, a charity that raises money for research into still born and premature babies. Dressed as Tinkerbell, Chris was frozen to the core at the start but soon warmed-up as the race got underway. Not totally marathon fit, Chris enjoyed his race and clocked 3:19:41, raising well over £600 for his chosen charity.
Sam Dodwell, a man who’s clearly enjoying his running, clocked an impressive 3:26:09. This was nearly a 15min PB. Sam’s solid training block clearly paying off.
The first GRC lady was the talented Hannah San Jose. In her 3rd marathon, Hannah’s experience over the distance is clearly starting to show. Pacing a brilliant race, Hannah clocked a brilliant 3:47:19, which is a 9 min PB.
In the performance of the day, Sarah High smashed the London Marathon Good for Age qualifying time and would have done for someone 10 years younger. Her eye-watering 3:55:27 was the highest age graded score of the day with 78:46% which is near national standard. Sarah is showing no signs of slowing up, running her fastest marathon for 5 years.
Richard Payne was glad to be back racing again after a 3-year break. His 3:56:02 was testament to the long hours he’s been enjoying on the road.
Sylv Hull completed a successful day for GRC with a whopping 15 min PB, clocking 4:34:33 in only her 2nd marathon. Learning with every race, Sylv enjoyed the conditions and the support from the GRC supporters crew who were stationed at various points around the course.