As the sporting world set to gorge itself on an unprecedented run (geddit?!) of Athletics starting with the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon then the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – The Green and Black army were up to the usual running endeavours!
Perhaps key to note; was the backdrop of the searing summer heat, as the country quite literally burned!
In direct antithesis of the above, the Podium 5k was held in Leicester on perhaps the only day it rained in July. Conditions restricted GRC’s only competitor, Samuel Jepson to 16:59.
An intrepid trio of Gav Meadows, prolific racer Robin Atter and Marj Spendlow donned their racing shoes at Round 3 of Holme Pierrepont Grand Prix held at Victoria Embankment, Nottingham.
Gav (20:07) the first home, a tired Robin clocking 20:48 and Marj in her first official 5k a very solid 25:44.
Later in the month the pair of Robin and Marj were back with Round 4 at the University of Nottingham 5 Miler. The final leg of the series, an undulating 2 lap course. Robin’s 37:51 a good effort coming off a stacked race schedule.
Marj’s debut 5 miler saw her in 44:53 – she was especially chuffed given the hilly nature of the course.
A lucky seven made the trip southbound to the second meet of the Peterborough GP 5k Series, hosted by our friends at Stamford Striders.
Graded as perhaps the toughest course in the series, the 2-lap course cruelly ends with a tough incline to finish
First home for GRC, was Rob Howbrook in a noteworthy time of 20:37.
Richard Payne, continues to regain mojo and fitness clocking 21:43, a 12 second improvement on the first meet at Eye.
Third in, and the first GRC female to cross the line, was Catherine Payne who finished in 22:24
Robert McArdle also improved his time from the Eye race a fortnight before in a time of 22:52.
Sylv Hull’s journey has gained club-wide popularity, her time of 25:24 a strong 1 minute 30 second improvement on the same course back in 2019, justly indicative of why.
Vicki Ball’s 25:52 and Zoë Wragg’s 26:37 both showing signs of upward trajectories as they bounce back from illness and injury.
In the first of three tidal waves of Green & Black, the sleepy village of Whissendine played host to its 6ix miler.
Since 1985 the Rutland village has banged the drum of this ‘Old Skool’ classic race distance, now largely overshadowed by the metric 10k.
Twenty-six of the club took to the rolling countryside, the 300+ feet (95m) of elevation made keener by this year’s stuffy evening 24°C temperature.
First home for GRC and finishing second overall Samuel Jepson clocked 34:11 – His podium performance made sweeter by the Achilles issue and blisters that dogged his race.
Andrew Pask and Peter Bonner were locked in battle all the way finishing in 40:31 and 40:33 respectively.
Rob Howbrook’s 42:29 made more impressive as the Stamford 5k was just two days prior.
Other highlights included Hannah Whittaker the first of the ladies in 45:46. Michelle Parczuk the next, her first 6-mile race saw her clock 46:38.
Paul Jepson (Paul Lenton) left delighted with his 25 second PB, a time of 50:22.
Sylv was pleased with a four-minute improvement over 2019.
Sinead McDonnell (53:08), Naomi Rivers (53:12) and Sarah High (53:35) completed a close trio of GRC women.
Kate Marshall’s 56:24, was very striking given the 24-hour ultra just two-weeks prior.
Rosalind Sadler’s debut 6ix in 57:29 and Julia Hallam & Yvonne Buckley, both clocked 01:06:30. Recently returning Brendon Buckley came home in 01:14:03 to a great reception from his club mates.
If Whissendine was stuffy, the 10k at Thurlby was scorching!
A race time of 1100 meant a starting temperature of 28°C…
It seems prudent to call out the brave souls in finishing order; Paul Jepson (‘fresh’ from Whissendine) Catherine Payne, Robert McArdle, Richard Urquhart (another Whissendine warrior) and Laura Pigott (Laura Elizabeth) – her official debut 10k, she was delighted to persevere and finish in 67:47.
England’s smallest county once again staged an invasion of Green and Black – the second of the promised tidal waves – this time at Rutland Water parkrun. It served as Round 11 of the club’s yearlong Grand Prix Series.
Thirty-seven made their way to the potentially fast, flat but often windy parkrun in the hopes of collecting some hard-earned points. And it didn’t disappoint.
Really hitting his straps of late and securing a new 25 second parkrun PB, Joaquim Jeronimo’s fast start set the tone as the heat escalated just as quickly. He clocked 17:29.
Joe Diggins showed his innate quality isn’t to be forgotten, running 18:33.
Shaving a staggering 47 seconds of his hitherto best, Russell Maksymiw really turned it on and will take tremendous confidence going forward. 20:13 was also his first 70+% age grading.
Gold standard Rob Howbrook secured 20:15.
Catherine Payne’s first GP shot across the boughs secured her the highest individual score to date with 84.45%, a parkrun PB and a clocking of 21:26.
Dale Towning’s return from injury is clearly going well, he improved his PB by 22 seconds to clock 23:49.
Zoë Wragg and Sylv Hull were separated by just 5 seconds as they each claimed PB’s. Zoë’s (25:13) highest ever age grading just edging out Sylv’s 25:18.
Kate Marshall dug deep to power herself to a new PB of 27:14.
The duo of Rachel Pattison (27:23) and Holly Wragg (28:41) were first time Rutland Water parkrunners, but it didn’t stop them bagging overall parkrun PB’s.
The Hardwick 10k saw Caroline Davis (Paul Davis) finish in a very credible 54:54. Being an out and back course, the uphill start turns into a pleasant downhill finish. In something of a homecoming, once upon a time this would have been her local race.
Right now, folks, buckle up for the third and final tidal waves of GRC.
The setting was this year’s 24hr Continental Thunder Run regular venue at Catton Park, Walton-on-Trent. Thunder Run (known as “TR24”) is a brutally tough off-road 10km relay race against the clock from noon on Saturday through to noon on Sunday.
The GRC 5 were a small mixed team in a notoriously tough category. A resurgent Matthew Williamson set them off with an opening lap of 45:40 – the team’s fastest lap. He would go on to complete five tidy laps.
Taking the baton Catherine Payne cast aside any injury doubts with the first of an impressive five laps (50km). The redoubtable Team Captain Robert McArdle was up next and completed his first lap in 52 minutes dead and went on to run an astonishing six laps (60km/37.3miles ).
Ben Hatherley and Ben Mason completed the order, and both ran five solid laps.
A typically indefatigable approach and consistently strong running meant that the team racked up an amazing twenty-six laps, resulting in a fantastic 4th place (the best placing for this experienced quintet) from 65 teams!
The so called GRC Tigers preparation was severely hampered before the off – they found themselves with three members down, two due to injury and one a family emergency.
Thus, TR24 newcomer Julia Hallam was given a baptism of fire but more than amply stepped up to the plate.
Julia, Alison Clark Helen Brown and Gordon Geach were bolstered by a little help from some friends (Mark Hillson et al) to rally in gutsy GRC fashion. Bravo!
Sylv led her team, The Pace Cadets, with typical gusto. With Alison stepping in to bolster the ‘Tigers’, the Magnificent Seven, comprised of Martin Carter, Wayne Baxter, Naomi Rivers, Zoe Wragg and husband & wife duo Kate and Fraser Marshall.
First lap duties fell to Martin who marked his return to fitness with three pleasing laps. Next, Wayne improved with every lap including running his night lap in a flurry of rain. He too did the team proud with his three laps.
Probably candidate for MVP of the team, Naomi lay to waste any hangover of the 2021 event where she completed only one lap due to injury. She put together four swift and assured laps as she returns to form and fitness after a tough period in the self-confessed ‘doldrums’, she also clocked the team’s fastest lap.
Zoë’s injury woes seem to be firmly surmounted, delivering three laps with massive improvements on the previous year. A training diet of trails/off-road clearly helping.
Ultra-marathon experienced Kate ran two great laps, before the course chewed up its first victim. A fall in her night lap in the woods left her gingerly clutching her knee. Prudently calling it a day she vowed to come back and conquer next year!
Fraser surpassed his own expectations, running three laps. He too nearly fell victim to the tree roots of the woodland but steeled himself to be much improved on last years endeavours.
Somewhat needlessly self-deprecating Sylv more than did her part for the team. Returning with three dependable laps, her orchestration of the team and leadership lauded by all.
The team were able to claim 63rd out of 129 teams.
‘Grantham Running Club Two’ completed 25 laps. Richard Payne poetically ran both team’s first and final lap. Mojo rediscovered; he was especially pleased to complete a total of four laps.
Ever dependable, Rob Howbrook also completed four laps and secured the teams fastest lap in a fantastic 48:05.
TR24 first timers Peter Jennings, Phillip Crowcroft and Marj Spendlow, putting in very commendable performances. The two dickie birds, one named Peter and one named Phil, excelled and completed three accomplished laps. Following a nasty trip on her night lap, Marj was gutted not to do a 3rd lap, but quite right her decision.
Off-road connoisseur Dale Towning and seasoned Thunder Runner Martin Rodell were able to utilise their experience to produce reliable laps.
Vicki Ball captained the team and was more than happy to complete three of her own laps securing herself a course best time too. Under her stewardship the team finish in an impressive 20th place.
Team A, the fastest of the mixed teams of eight had a delicate mix of experience and fresh-faced ignorance. Kicking off with an opening lap of 42:05 from captain Samuel Jepson, they gained a strong position. He handed over to ace-up-the-sleeve TR24 debutant; Jonathan Palmer who’s ultra and trail running résumé is of some note. Clocking a team best time of 39:34 (!).
Following on were very experienced middle order of Andrew Pask, Sam Dodwell, Sarah High and Dean Riggall. Robin Atter and young GAC guest Rori Rodell both impressed at last years’ event and were back for more.
As the event wore on and laps were put to bed, it emerged that the A team were in contention near the top.
The misfortune of the captain (Achilles injury) became a blessing in disguise as a rejigging of the order allowed Johnny to make serious inroads into the closest team. GRC Chairman Pask and Messrs Dodwell and Riggall (4 laps each) also clawed back time and surpassed the team hitherto in 3rd spot.
As the event cut-off approached, the final inspired roll of the dice came: there was only one man who be capable of a sub-45 minute lap this late in the game… You guessed it; Mr Palmer. His 5th lap was inspired as handed over to the indomitable Sarah to take the boys home guaranteed to be in 3rd.
Sarah was given the customary guard of honour by the rest of the team waving the Green & Black GRC flag.
The team’s 3rd place was the highest ever for GRC in its long history at this event.
The weekend was a spectacular success for GRC, with amazing camaraderie, team spirit and performances.
Lastly, the third of the Lincoln Wellington 5k series meets saw last months winner, Daniel Pearce rather remarkably best his own PB yet again. Clocking 19:43.
Perhaps more ludicrous was Robert McArdle (24:18) and Sarah High (26:02) using the event as a TR24 ‘cool down’ just 2 days later!
We’ve feasted upon the delights of July, it’s time to get down to business.
This runner has been steadily but unquestionably going from strength to strength over the past few months. Selective with his racing, but with a methodical approach to training, its paying rich dividends for him. Each race more impressive than the last.
His first performance that drew in acclaim and secured the Runner’s Up spot was at the warm Whissendine 6ix. Taking a very pleasing 10th place overall in 36:01 in his first attempt at the 6ix.
Indeed IF it had been a 10k it would’ve eclipsed the Solstice race the month before. Averaging 6min/mi on that course is fine running indeed.
It got better.
Being something of a family affair, parkrun holds a special spot in his heart. He showed plenty of guts alongside that heart as his 17:12 at the Rutland Water parkrun was a stark and eye-catching performance. It represented a 43 second improvement on the standing PB he obliterated.
It meant he was 1 second away from an 80% age grading. Something I’m sure is only a matter of time for this fine runner.
Running prowess can be genetic and he clearly comes from fine stock, but it still requires dedication and hard work – shown by him in spades over the past few years.
This month he can take family bragging rights!
The Runner Up for July is Russel Whittaker.
Winner of July Member of the Month
The winner of July is in the middle of a quite astounding vein of form.
Like the Beatles when they discovered LSD, the leap has been not only joyous to watch but remarkably consistent too.
Setting the tone for his finest month of running to date, he first kept very close order to a duo of club juggernauts (Andrew Pask and Peter Bonner) at Whissendine 6ix in superb and well-judged time of 40:51.
Rutland Water was the next place to conquer. Boyed by confidence of the last few months, he really set his stall out to attack the notoriously quick course with still, if quite warm, conditions in his favour.
Making a mockery of his previous best parkrun, trimming off 44 seconds.
So, to the LWAC 5k Series 3rd meet later in the month.
The first two meets left him slightly deflated as he was agonisingly close to sub-20 minutes; a personal goal for some time.
He put it all out there and was rewarded not just scraping by but attacking the run form the off he came away with a well-earned clocking of 19:39.
July Member of the Month
Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding for the easy-on-the-eye, always smiling, friendly neighbourhood postie; Stefan Latter!
Right my keyboard needs a rest!
Congratulations Stef and all nominated.