Thirteen members of Grantham Running Club blitzed the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon with a new club record, six personal bests and a truly unforgettable experience for the marathon debutantes who joined the record 39,349 finishers, cheered home by the estimated 800,000 spectators lining the course from start to finish.
Matthew Kingston-Lee was the first GRC runner home. Surviving an injury scare on the way to the start, Matthew put in a metronomic master class of even paced running, culminating in a new club record of 2hr 41min 42sec, bettering his old personal best by a second shy of two minutes. This time secured him a prestigious Championship entry for the next two years.
Matthew said: “The pre-race injury fortunately didn’t affect me too badly in the race. I felt very comfortable for the first 20 miles, had a bad patch from 20-22 miles, but with 5km to run I gave it full gas and prayed I didn’t hit the wall. Happily I didn’t and I was delighted to walk, albeit slowly and painfully, away with a big new PB.”
Next home was Chris Limmer who also ran an impressively even paced marathon to knock a minute off his old PB, describing his 2:50:12 as “an emotional marathon”.
Dean Riggall bravely opted to target a cherished ‘sub-3’ performance. On target at halfway he suffered somewhat in the final miles, but his time of 3:06:54 bettered his old PB by two-and-half minutes and secured a Good For Age place for the next two London Marathons.
First woman home for GRC was Holly Durham. Holly, running her second London Marathon and fourth marathon, ran a superbly consistent race to clock a new PB of 3:17:41.
Less than 30 seconds behind Holly finished Catherine Payne. Running a slight negative split, Catherine ran an exceptional new PB of 3:18:10, bettering her old best by 75 seconds. This earned her a brilliant 19th position in the VF50 age category.
Paul Davies, running his first London Marathon, ran an exuberant opening half to the race which led to six miles of painful cramp to the finish, yet it yielded a 3:30:46, just over a minute outside his PB, and a promise to return faster in the future.
Penny Hodges did not enjoy an ideal preparation for her first London Marathon and planned to run a very conservative opening half of the race, with the hope of a strong finish. This reaped a big new PB of 3:40:57, almost certainly securing a delighted Penny a prized Good For Age spot at the London Marathon for the next two years.
Tommy Williamson, running his third London Marathon, also went into the race a little undertrained due to work and family commitments. He was happy to finish in under four hours with a time of 3:55:01.
Promising afterwards, like every year, it would be his last marathon, Andrew Spencer slipped outside four hours after a strong opening half to the race, but finished in a highly commendable 4:05:09.
Jacqueline Jacobs admitted her first marathon “didn’t go quite to plan”, clocking 4:50:40, but enjoyed the amazing experience of being cheered on by the fantastic crowds at Tower Bridge in particular.
Embodying the spirit of the London Marathon that has helped make it one of the world’s most famous sporting events, marathon debutantes Hazel Dunthorne (4:56:25), Jo Moore (5:47:12) and Amanda Mumby (6:14:57) collectively raised nearly £4,000 for Steps, Cancer Research and the Dogs for Good charities respectively.
GRC club chairman Matthew Kingston-Lee commented: “It was a fantastic day for the club, an experience none of us will forget. I was enormously proud of all our runners and hugely grateful for the support of those who travelled down on the day to support or who followed online.
“All our spring marathon finishers are now looking forward to a well deserved rest over the next few weeks and a group celebration this weekend.”