ATHLETICS: Grantham club runners all go under four hours in Manchester Marathon

GRCs Matthew Williamson, Gav Meadows and SJ Willis in Manchester.

GRCs Matthew Williamson, Gav Meadows and SJ Willis in Manchester.

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A total of nine runners from Grantham Running Club took part in the Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday.

The race, which starts close to Old Trafford football stadium, is one of the highlights of the UK marathon calendar. It works its way through Trafford Park, Stretford, Sale, Timperley, Altrincham and Urmston, before finishing at Old Trafford cricket ground. The course is one of the flattest in the UK, making it ideal for running fast times and personal bests. Runners were also helped by near perfect weather conditions on the day.

All nine GRC athletes performed well and were rightly proud of what they achieved after months of long, hard training.

First home was Gav Meadows who was hoping to achieve the London Marathon ‘good for age’ time for his age group (under 3hr 5min). He came up short in the end but still posted an impressive time of 3:10:21 – his second fastest marathon to date.

Second to cross the line was Andy Atter who was running his first marathon for some time and also his first as a member of the club. He paced the race perfectly, recording a huge personal best of 3:12:13 to beat his previous best by an unbelievable 48 minutes.

Next to finish for GRC was young marathon debutant Matthew Williamson in a time of 3:14:58. This was a remarkable first attempt at the distance and showed a lot of potential for the future.

Continuing the string of fine performances was Rob Howbrook who set a new PB of 3:20:39 after making his marathon debut in 2016. He also finished a very impressive 22nd in the Male Veteran 55 age category.

Closely following was Nick Payne who also ran a PB of 3:22:01, beating his previous best by a whopping margin of 15 minutes.

There is absolutely no doubt which GRC runner had the most eventful day overall. Mark Hillson had a great race, running a new PB of 3:34:02. However, his battle didn’t end there.

Unfortunately, he fell ill close to the finish line and spent five hours in the medical tent after the race. As he came round, it was only when his finishers’ bag and medal were pointed out to him that he became aware that he had finished the race.

Last, but definitely not least, were the three GRC ladies taking part, who all produced fine performances and completed the full set of nine GRC athletes all finishing in under four hours.

Yet another PB was set by Sarah High who smashed her previous best by seven minutes, finishing in 3:48:36. Even more impressive was her seventh place finish in the Female Veteran 55 age category.

Next was GRC’s second marathon debutant of the day, Sinead McDonnell. She produced a very solid first attempt at the distance, crossing the line in 3:57:50. Closely following was SJ Willis who added yet another PB to the collection, finishing in 3:59:01 to beat her previous best by a massive 45 minutes.

Summing up after the race, Gav Meadows said: “Overall, this was a day of great achievements for the club. Every single athlete performed well, regardless of whether personal targets set before the race were met or not.

“The marathon is an extremely difficult beast to conquer and to have all nine runners break the four hour barrier was truly remarkable.”