The 2016 Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon, Grantham’s only road running race, was an outstanding success for Grantham Running Club, with Matthew Kingston-Lee taking a sensational second position in a thrilling battle in which the top four were covered by less than 20 seconds.
Behind Matthew, there was an Age Category victory for Rob Howbrook, a number of PBs and personal triumphs for three graduates from the club’s 2015 beginners’ programme, who successfully completed their first Half Marathons.
Runner-up Matthew began the 13.1 mile race in bullish manner, briefly leading the field of more than 400 runners as they left The Meres stadium. He spent much of the race in fourth position, keeping a close watch on the leaders before making an attack on the second of two tough climbs at Casthorpe, 11 miles into the race.
He went agonisingly close to catching the eventual race winner Adam Holland (Notfast RC), but looked as though he would have to settle for third place as they entered the stadium for the finish.
Spurred on by vociferous local support, Matthew summoned a determined sprint finish to take second place at the line, clocking an impressive 1.15.30.
“I’m thrilled to have finished second at my home event,” commented Matthew. “It was an exciting, tactical race that could have been won by any one of the top five finishers. The local support cheering my name around the course and at the finish was a real inspiration and undoubtedly helped me claim my best ever position in a road race.”
Behind Matthew, Rob Howbrook, in a superb 1.28.09, was next to finish for GRC, knocking over a minute off his PB and taking first place in the V55 age category.
Taking advantage of perfect race conditions, there were also PBs for Mark Wilson (1.30.50) and Nick Rossington, who took an impressive three minutes off his with 1.31.36. Sarah High was the first female GRC runner to finish, 1.50.04 placing her just ahead of Helen Brown (1.50.22), and ahead of Liam Vincent, who made his half marathon debut, clocking 1.55.47.
It was a special day for Richard Dobbs, Martin Carter, and Nicholas Jones who, less than a year ago, were scarcely able to run more than a few miles between them, yet all successfully completed their first half marathons in 1.54.11, 2.01.32, and 2.12.07 respectively.
Martin paid tribute to Grantham Running Club’s Couch to 5k course, a 10 week programme the three completed in 2015: “I really enjoyed it, everyone was so supportive. Since I joined the club I’ve lost over a stone in weight and I don’t think I’ve ever been so fit. A year ago I never would have thought I’d be able to complete a half marathon.”
Grantham Running Club’s 2016 beginners’ programme starts on Monday, April 4, at The Meres leisure centre. Further details can be found at www.granthamrunningclub.co.uk/beginners