Piers Pye-Watson, Feb 22

Welcome to the review and Member of The Month of the  ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ month that is February.

A month that started with a prolonged spell of ghastly stormy and windy weather and ended with the winds of change blowing through Europe…

In the grand scheme of things, running probably took a backward step. But I’m not here to make any more subtle geopolitical commentary and would rather suggest that we switch our focus on the positive and celebrate the achievements of GRC!

Our first soiree of the month takes us to the rugged coastline of Skegness. The Skegness Coasters 10k is a philanthropic race which donates proceeds to local charities and causes, as such it’s become justifiably, quite a popular event. A classic “four seasons in a day” beset the runners on the largely flat course.

Despite the challenging conditions it didn’t deter our first nominee. It came in the guise of the rapidly improving Marj Spendlow – She led the GRC charge home, clocking 52:28 and in doing so shaving an impressive 2 minutes and 36 seconds off her hitherto existing PB.

Ferocious winds also hampered The Holme Pierrpoint races with varying laps of the famous rowing lake. GRC’s only 10k representative was Emma Hopkinson who was making her race debut. Again, flying in the face of the conditions she was still able to bag a very commendable PB of 01:00:34, having recently transferred from Lonely Goat Running Club.

Our next event is very much a notch in the belt of local spring marathoners, for us in GRC it’s just a short flit down the A1 and has become somewhat of a club annual pilgrimage; the Stamford Striders St. Valentines 30k.

With seventeen runners donning the Green and Black it could take some time to capture every worthy runner, sincere apologies if I overlook anyone – you were all amazing!

In what’s becoming a theme for February; runners, marshals and spectators were battered by inclement weather from start to finish.

First back for GRC and thus securing the first nomination this race would provide; Sarah Chynoweth found strange enjoyment in the course, notorious for being ‘undulating’ – a classic runners term to playdown the reality: “it’s a hilly bastard!”

Her 02:17:02 time knocked an impressive thirteen minutes off her 2020 salvo, it also netted her and partner, Jonathan Palmer the honours in the famous pairs race. Securing a top 10 berth capped the day off quite well, me thinks!

Mikey Brain gained his nomination for his 17 minutes race improvement (!) clocking 2:21:15. Also set in 2020 in undeniably more favourable conditions. A great improvement and effort from the still relative race novice.

Like her namesake, Sarah High impressed with her 2:48:12. It meant 6th place in her age category and one of the highest age gradings of the day with a 73.88%.

This is probably more impressive given the context of focusing more on XC races of late and thus impacting the ability to train in her normal methodical way.

The final nominee takes us on a short segue away from Stamford.

Stephen J Fay took to the RAF Shawbury 10k race late in the month.

The exposed runway course was still well supported throughout, and it was ran in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Again despite conditions on the day Stephen dug deep to clock a brilliant 54:48 minutes, ninth in his age cat and chipping nearly three minutes off on his previous 10k personal best.

To February’s Runner Up we go.

Firstly, galantly stomping around a challenging off-road Rauceby Ripper to secure a very commendable 13th position overall (of 221 runners). This having warmed up nicely with a parkrun in the morning and then chased it all down with a few ales at GRC’s presentation evening!

Not finished for the month, the prolific racer took to the surrounding villages of Stamford at the 30k.

As he tunes up for Spring, this race represented his longest distance raced to date. 

Rightly very pleased with a fantastic time of 2:19:16 he even managed to produce negative splits.

One hopes, as no doubt he does himself, it points to a promising next couple of weeks and months, if not year ahead.

Congratulations Peter Bonner!

So, to this month’s winner.

To write about someone who boasts a sub 3 hours marathon, but is relatively unknown amongst the club is something that strikes me as a bit of a misnomer.

Taking to the Belvoir Challenge, our ‘Grey Man’ showed off his prowess in off-road and trail running. Often found up a fell or in the soft slushy mud of The Vale, he has built his strength and staying power over a steady diet of such running over the years.

The ‘15 mile’ Belvoir Challenge route is a brute. There’s no hiding away from the technical nature of the course, energy sapping mud, momentum arresting water and puddles and of course bumps, lumps and serious hills to check the spirit of any runner.

Our Member of the Month glided over and through all of this with seeming ease and grace at 7.20 min/miling to clock a superb 1:52:35 and pick up a cracking 6th place.

February Member of the Month

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to lay some respect on the name; Congratulations Piers Pye-Watson!

Ace work Piers and all nominees!

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