Courtesy of her fifth place finish at the 2015 event, Grantham Running Club’s Catherine Payne was rewarded with a place in the elite starting pen for the IAAF Leiden Marathon in Holland last weekend.
The full marathon was the climax of a weekend of racing that attracted more than 15,000 runners from all over Western Europe, which means that the narrow start on the cobbled streets can be very crowded for those further back and a place near the front will reduce the risk of being boxed in as the run makes its way out of the city through the Pieterswick district.
Catherine went into the race in good form having completed the Manchester Marathon in sub-3min 20sec in April.
She ran the first part of the Dutch race inside target pace with 10km being brought up in sub-47 minutes and the half way point being reached in 1:37:40, but as the wind grew stronger in the second part of the race and with miles 16 to 23 almost directly into the headwind, it proved impossible to maintain this speed especially as the last two miles were on wet cobblestones as she re-entered the city through the Morspoort Gate.
But encouraged by the crowds lining the streets, she was able to improve on her previous best on this course to finish as fourth lady in a time of 3:22:58.
Also running was teammate Robert McArdle whose time of 3:33:12 was almost eight minutes faster than his previous best for the course.