Same message as last month re: tardiness, life has a funny way of galloping away from you, right? So, same apologies.
February saw Grantham Running Club celebrate the wonderful exploits of all the club throughout 2022. A glitzy evening with a fabulous special guest; Dai Greene.
February is also the month of love. Be it unrequited love, endless love, ‘a hunk, a hunk of burning love’, be you in love, out of love, feeling the love, broken by love, a ‘Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy’, eternally optimistic or just love running – here’s to you, my loves!
Nuff’ bull – let’s dance:
Thematically, we tend to start away from roads, and so it seems churlish to stray from that formula…
The Rauceby Ripper is a fast-selling local favourite that pits runners against a fairly testing multi-terrain race of mud, sand, gravel, a little bit of road and freshly ploughed fields organised by Sleaford Town Runners. (A quick scan of Strava suggests it runs just shy of 9 miles).
Amongst a field of 250 runners, six members of GRC took part – a mix of first timers and those having taken part in previous incarnations.
Conditions on the day were good and dry, greeted gleefully by runners and marshals alike.
Peter Bonner credits the Ripper as his favourite race of the year. Finishing in a strong (but perhaps agonising) 1:00:01 that saw him finish in the top ten. Peter has run the Ripper multiple times before getting quicker and stronger with every year.
Peter was followed by Paul Davis who put in a stonking effort finishing in 1:16:42 beating his 2022 time by an incredible 10 minutes!
Still green but learning with every passing month Nicci Whittaker was the first GRC lady finishing her first Ripper and longest ever race in 1:18:08.
Sarah High was next across the line placing 2nd in her age category in 1:18:43. This was Sarah’s first Ripper and, in her words, “I didn’t hate it, (I) would definitely do it again and recommend it (to) all who like cross country”.
Caroline Davis quickly followed finishing in 1:18:48. A seasoned Ripper runner Caroline settled into the race, keeping a consistent pace throughout the course.
All agreed the atmosphere was fantastic at a local, reasonably priced off-road race.
Skegness is so bracing (IYKYK!)
One the same weekend four headed to the coast to race in the Skegness 10k.
The race is organised by Skegness Coasters and is held at Butlins. a flat, traffic-free course within the resort with 400 runners turning out on a sunny morning by the sea.
First back for the club was run streaker Daniel Pearce in 40:04 – setting a new PB by 40 seconds and finishing in 34th place.
He was pleased with his performance just missing out on a coveted sub-forty, which he hopes to break soon.
Not far adrift, prolific racer Robin Atter clocked 40:29, finishing just 4 places back in 38th.
He too on the quest to join Dan in ‘Breaking Forty’. As he eyes a late spring marathon, this represented a decent starting point.
Paul Jepson had a great race, coming in 49 minutes flat (49:00), giving him an age grading of 72.23% and a season’s best.
Finally, but not leastly was still relative newcomer Zane Wojtowicz. Zane’s previous 10k time set at the Lincoln 10K in 2022 was 52:05. Since joining GRC in December and that structured training showed on the day with a fantastic time of 50:31 which gave her a PB.
The four members made the most of being at the coast on a sunny day after!
One of the ‘highlights’ / tests of the entire racing calendar is undoubtedly the Stamford Striders St. Valentine’s 30k – What better to celebrate the Martyrdom of the patron saint of love, epilepsy and beekeepers than by running 30k around the country roads of Stamford?
Ten members of GRC joined 5early 500 runners taking part, always held the Sunday closest to St Valentine’s Day.
It is recognised nationally as a tough event, providing a good training race for those planning a spring marathon, and with GRC members busy training for marathons in Edinburgh, London and Manchester, the race gave them an ideal opportunity to test the marathon legs in a 30k race.
Starting in Stamford, the route provides plenty of undulation through the surrounding villages of Little Casterton, Ryhall, Careby, Holywell and Pickworth. It then returns through Great Casterton, Tolethorpe and back to Stamford for the (in)famous lap of the field.
Peter Bonner’s 2:08:20, a PB, very much indicative of the meticulous preparation he is making, not to mention the rich vein of form he finds himself in.
Following was Robin Atter in 2:18:29 who had gleefully taken the opportunity to share the tough nature of the course with the experienced 2nd claim member Chris Limmer, gaining himself a new PB. One of Chris’s favourite races he paced Robin dutifully, crossing the line slightly behind Robin in 2:18:51.
A determined Dean Riggall was next back for the club in 2:29:57. A grim winter of niggles slowly but surely abating as he paced this race, albeit below pique performance, with near robotic execution. To say it was Peter Jennings’ first time running a race of this distance, is a bit of misdirection – whilst technically true he has completed marathon distances and ultras. Using this experience to finish in 2:41:24.
Speaking of enigmatic, Caroline Davis kept Peter in her sights as much as you can o’er the many hills, clocking 2:42:21 – who knows what Caroline will do next 5k or 55k… or both!
Warren Stark was next in well measured 2:47:46, closely followed by Craig G Drury in 2:48:48 and the indefatigable Sarah High in 2:50:42.
Back to the Seaside!
On Sunday 26th February GRC dipped its toe into the freezing English Channel. Andrew MacAllister venturing south to take part in the Brighton Half Marathon with his son Joe.
Brighton has seen it’s fair share of running controversy and (deserved) running community criticism of late, luckily the Marathon and Half Marathon are very separate events!
The weather that greeted Andrew was bitterly cold thanks to a brisk northerly wind that increased throughout the morning, thankfully there was no rain or the forecasted snow flurries!
The start and finish line was on the iconic seafront road, Madeira Drive, just east of the Palace Pier, with the route for the 10,000 entrants taking in many of Brighton’s visitor highlights such as Brighton Marina, Preston Park, Brighton Pavilion, the i360 tower, West Pier and Hove Lagoon.
An eleventh-hour change of tactic saw Andrew deploy a rather ambitious “crash and burn” technique. Exhibiting a great pace to about mile nine, then hanging on for dear life until the finish line. The end result for Andrew was a fine time of 1:46:48.
One unusual sight along the way, Royal Marine Sam Hammond, AKA Man v Fridge or ‘Fridget Jones’, who ran the race carrying a 26kg fridge on his back, to claim a Guinness World Record of 2:04:13!
One the same day, a little close to home eight made their way to the stunning Grade 1 listed Prestwold Hall for the Leicestershire Half Marathon.
The course started and finished in front of the Hall and was a mixture of undulating country roads, tracks and a couple of loops of the old airfield to test mental strength.
First home for the Green n’ Black Army was a resurgent and fit Russell Maksymiw, taking part in his first half marathon since 2018 he was rightly pleased to keep a consistently strong pace throughout and finish in 1:42:07 thus beating his PB by over 9 minutes!
If that wasn’t ridiculous enough, he was followed by Dale Towning, an extended injury free block has meant a continuation of his fine run of achievements – with an impressive time of 1:46:13 – it knocked a massive 23 minutes off his previous PB. Bonkers!
In only his second race since joining the club, Jonathan Whittaker settled a debate by finishing in well under 2 hours with a time of 1:56:00.
Danny Wallace was next back, his time of 2:00:42 setting the benchmark for the next three half marathons he’s planning to do this year!
The next 2 ladies home graduated from the GRC Beginners course of 2022 and have definitely caught the running bug! Emma Bannister crossed the line in 2:05:12 and Debbie Bennett in 2:07:53. Shortly in after Debbs was Nichola Webster in a time of 2:08:15.
And on her return to fitness the ever-improving Catherine Wallace finished the course on 2:17:46
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed an omission (or two) from the above.
In the midst of a structured, meticulous marathon block, it can sometimes be hard to break the monotony – so when an opportunity presents itself, it seems rude not to grab it with both hands.
That’s exactly what our runner up was able to do at the Rauceby Ripper in his first time running the event.
The fact he was able to secure a trophy for his efforts speaks of where he finds himself; as eluded to earlier the Ripper isn’t a stroll in the park – multiples off road surfaces and hills work against you. So to find him first across the line for GRC, finishing in 6th place overall with a chip time of 58:02 placing him first in his age category the February Member of The Month Runner Up is Russel Whittaker.
Looking back through the available archive and certainly throughout my tenure of writing MOTM’s (this being my 25th such occasion) it seems totally incredible to me that this month’s winner hasn’t won it before…
Thanks in no small part to a more sensible approach to the process of training and other changes that have brought about an even healthier lifestyle it’s no wonder it’s all starting to pay rich dividends. Add that to a raw speed and aptitude for running… it’s a winning combination.
Back to that toughie we go then; the Stamford 30k.
With no specific desire to do a marathon this year (to my mind at least), it was somewhat of a surprise to see him taking the place of an injured GRC’er for a 30k race, but sometimes you gotta follow your whims, right?
Setting off at his famously blistering pace, he dug deeper and deeper as the race bite back more and more. He more than clung on and to boot made a mockery of some of his official shorter race times along the way. In the end he posted the 3rdfastest time (according to available data at the time of writing) in a quite frankly silly 2:00:18.
Ladies and Gentlefolk of GRC, the February Member of the Month is Joaquim Jeronimo. Flash is back!
Parabéns meu, amigo!
Congrats to all nominees.
Peace and with love,