Phil Devine, Oct 19

Despite the start line cancellation of the Great Eastern Half – one of the most popular events amongst GRC runners – October 2019 once again saw a bumper pack of superlative performances that caused headaches for the voting panel to form a definitive, but manageable, list of nominations for Member of the Month. Apologies once again if you felt your performance deserved mention!

The month kicked off with some mass GRC parkrun tourism at Rutland Water courtesy of event #194 being a round of the club’s GP Series. Parkrun isn’t normally considered when MOM nominations are concerned but given the race-like stature this very much not-a-race-but-a-free-to-enter-timed-5K-run embraced, Angela Carr was nominated for her 28:19 clocking. This came just a week after she had broken 30 minutes for the first time after more than three years of trying at Belton House and improved on that time by a whopping 91 seconds!

Also nominated partly for their efforts at Rutland parkrun was Matthew Kingston-Lee, who broke the parkrun club record by fourteen seconds with his 16:22 first place finish. He then became the first member to break two club records in the same month when he bettered the half marathon record by two seconds when finishing third at the Chesterfield Half Marathon. Another club record breaker in October was Jonny Palmer, who broke Matthew’s barely set 10K club record by thirteen seconds with his 33:28 PB at the Leeds Abbey Dash.

Also at the Abbey Dash where, incredibly, over 75% of the top 250 finishers claimed 10K personal bests, was Sarah Chynoweth who became just the second GRC woman to break 40 minutes and went #2 all time with her 39:50 – a 67 second improvement on her old PB. Behind Sarah, Sylv Hull bettered her 10K PB by a huge 2:38 with 54:52. Showing such improvements weren’t confined to the streets of Leeds, Caroline Davis ran a superb 46:55 at the Cambridge Town Gown 10K to better her old PB by over two minutes.
October is in the heart of the autumn marathon season and there were several nominations for runners taking part in races over 26.2 miles.

Craig G Drury picked a battle when he chose the Snowdonia Marathon to make his road marathon debut. The notoriously hilly course was made all the more challenging with the flooding occurring in Wales that day and Craig performed admirably to finish in 4:18:37.

The Yorkshire Marathon saw a big turnout from GRC and there were several PB performances from which Richard Payne was nominated for his twelve minute plus 3:26:48 PB. Rachel Pattison was nominated too for her near twenty two minute PB 5:00:04 as was Jo Moore, who bettered her old best by an hour and seventeen minutes with 4:29:22.

The cancellation of the GER meant that there were far less half marathon personal bests than we have normally come to expect in October. Joe Clarke was nominated for his 29 second PB 1:25:26 leading home the GRC contingency at the Worksop Half Marathon. At the same race young Barney Stretton made a hugely impressive half marathon debut with his 1:27:36 clocking. This came after he had already set heads turning in the preceding weeks with his impressive 54th place finish at the opening round of the North Midlands XC League at Markeaton Park and his fourth position at the opening round of the Lincolnshire XC League in Louth.

Runner-up for October Member of the Month was August’s winner Samuel Jepson-Rivers who had backed up his trio of personal bests in that month with a 10K PB at West Pinchbeck in September. He then blew that PB out of the water with a minute-sixteen-second-forty-minute-busting 39:26 at the Leeds Abbey Dash.

The winner of October Member of the Month joins a very exclusive group of GRC runners who are members of a certain club that is, among male runners especially, probably the most sought after in the pantheon of time barriers for any given distance. To the best of my knowledge, prior to October 2019, only five members of GRC had broken three hours for the marathon. Of those five, only three had done so while being a member of the club and only two while being a first claim member. The three who have gone sub-3 while a member of GRC had all already done so prior to joining the club.

Phil Devine, taking part in his third Abingdon Marathon on Sunday October 20th, headed to the start with a target time in mind of 3:05. Buoyed by a good summer of training he made a very last minute decision to ‘go for broke’ and aim for a sub-3. On target for around 2:55 at halfway the going got tough (as it nearly always does) at around twenty miles, but Phil dug very deep into his mental reserves to keep the pace steady all the way to the finish, setting an eleven and a half minute PB and, crucially, crossing the finish line in 2:58:11.

This achievement makes Phil the first GRC runner to break 3 hours for the first time while being a member of the Club* and just the third to date to do so while a first claim member.

Congratulations to Phil on being October 2019 Grantham Running Club Member of the Month!

*In wearing his 7 Regiment RLC vest at Abingdon, Phil has left a little carrot dangling to see who will be the first member to break three hours for the first time while wearing a GRC vest!

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