Sarah High, Apr 22

As is usually the case, the beginning of April signals the beginning of the major Marathon season for club runners up and down the country. It remains to be seen if the old adage of “Winter miles, Spring smiles” rings true, but it does bring about a unique and exciting time for us running purists.

The Red Rose city of Manchester is the setting for the 2nd largest UK Marathon, sometimes living in the shadow of the famous London race, it took centre stage in early April as London kept to its October staging for one more year.
It is here that we shall begin, so strap on the racing flats and let’s have at it, my dear Constant Reader!

You know it’s a pretty good day when eight members of the club break the 3:20 mark! Indeed, running 3:06 was only ‘good enough’ for the fourth fastest of the day – I doubt there are many clubs that can state that.

Sylv Hull completed a whopping fifteen minute PB, clocking 4:34:33 in only her 2nd marathon. Learning with every marathon, Sylv enjoyed the more favourable conditions and reaped the reward of better preparation. Hannah San Jose also continues her steady and assured trajectory upwards. In her 3rd marathon, she used her experience to clock a brilliant 3:47:19, it represented a nine-minute improvement on her last endeavour.

I don’t think it’s a disservice to say that Peter Bonner’s preferred distances are somewhat shorter than the (in)famous 26.2 miles. However, one thing you can rely on is his determination and meticulous training. His mature and paced
approach paid dividends as his debut returned 3:19:17.

Relative unknown, but clearly talented and hardworking, Richard Brewer drew his own plaudits as his clocking of 3:11:32 in only his 2nd marathon was a twelve-minute enhancement on his first.

Impressing and pissing people off (all well-humoured and light-hearted japes) in equal measure, Sam Jepson ran on long after he was supposed to drop out pacing duties. A sub 3 clocking of 2:59:50 was a decent, albeit unexpected debut for the 5k-10k specialist.

Returning the debut of the day was birthday boy, Russell Whittaker. A stunning race saw him set out to a clear plan – an aggressive one – that rewarded him handsomely, with 02:58:13. A time only set to be bettered in the years to come!

Joe Diggins, took to Manchester in the wake of a simply stunning end to 2021. His latest trip to Manchester had yielded a fantastic ‘ever-so-close’ to sub-3 clocking… This time he set out his stall in a more aggressive manner, despite suffering from a cold and tight chest the week before.

His winter of graft, sweat and hard bloody work paid him back handsomely as he obliterated the sub-3 barrier in clocking a 02:56:49.

Phew! We need a breather!

Away from the bright lights of Manchester, GRC’s GP series continued with The Belvoir Half Marathon, Wendy Smith clocking 2:32:28.

Caroline Davies was able to bag a 70%+ age grading in the Boston (UK) Marathon. A small spread-out field makes for some lonely race miles, but nothing substitutes experience and the ever-consistent Davies clocked: 03:54:13.

I must say, it’s tremendous to write of a long-awaited return to running for Brendon Buckley – in the 5k event at Longhorn his first competitive race for over 3 years due to prolonged injury and health concerns. His time of 38:36 was largely irrelevant as it marks a line in the sand, on the long road back to full fitness. 

So, to our runner up for April and back to Manchester we fly!

One shouldn’t mistake his quiet and calm demeanour for anything but focused and hard-working, couple this with his penchant for helping others too, the last few years has been something of a radical transformation for this runner as he continues to grow in stature seemingly month on month!

As a starter for ten – his Manchester Marathon was another giant leap forward with a near 15min PB. His solid, determined, and methodical training block clearly paying off.

This was (somehow) bettered by a quite unbelievable half performance at Boston barely 2 weeks later – He led the Boston charge for GRC clocking 1:31:07 which was a four and half minute’s improvement on his PB!

Are we done? Heck no!

He was back in unrelenting fashion as he back racing 6 days after Boston at the multi-terrain 10k at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. His 41:19 improved his official best road 10k from Lincoln last year… Imagine what he can do on ‘fresher’ legs…!

Our April Runner-up is Sam Dodwell!

To best Sam’s sublime needed something special…

Step forward our Winner of April’s Member of the Month.

I am, by no means, an expert when it comes to Marathons, but I do know that it takes guts, dedication and determination and that is just the mental side of things! Physical conditioning is the other key component, honed over many hours of leg pounding, gel slurping, aching miles. This usually in the hardest, coldest, darkest months.

Basically, it takes grit.

And with the highest degree of awe I can convey, our winner has grit in spades! Couple this with having recently celebrated a birthday milestone too (my Mother taught me well enough not to reveal a woman’s age!), add in the mix some doubts as to whether she’d make it to the start line with other commitments it makes her Manchester Marathon all the more incredible!

Using all her grit and know-how to turn in a performance which scored 78.46% in age grading which is near
national standard! It also her fastest marathon for over 5 years. Her clocking of 03:55:27 made light work of the London Marathon Good for Age qualifying time and would have done for someone 10 years younger!

 April Member of the Month

Ladies, Gentleman, please whoop and holler for April’s Member of the Month; Sarah High.

Congratulations, everyone.

Sarah High, MotM Apr 22
Sarah High, MotM Apr 22, Manchester Marathon

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