ATHLETICS: Grantham RC take up the Challenge in Vale of Belvoir

Pictured from left are Grantham Running Club's Paul Rushworth, Chris Limmer, Mark Hillson and Penny Hodges.
Pictured from left are Grantham Running Club's Paul Rushworth, Chris Limmer, Mark Hillson and Penny Hodges.
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Grantham Running Club took part in the Belvoir Challenge – a 15- or 26-mile run around the countryside.

To make things more interesting, the route is only revealed within two weeks of the event, though it is always marked well enough to avoid any navigational errors.

GRC had a number of runners taking part across the two distances which both began and finished in the village of Harby. Although the conditions were cold and a bit breezy, it was at least dry which made it an improvement on last year’s race where the rain later in the morning made it quite a mudfest.

In the 15-mile race, there were eight GRC runners taking part. They were led home by Daniel Howson in a very good time of 2hr 18min 45sec which placed him 80th out of the 732 that completed the shorter distance.

First lady home was Sinead Mcdonnell who finished in 3:01:13, an impressive performance on a course that was quite rutted in places and had its fair share of mud. Next home was Julie Riggall in 3:25:01.

Other members embraced the spirit of the event by enjoying the well-stocked aid stations on the course that had lots of local homemade cakes and treats. Finishing together in 3:51:48 to 3:51:54 were Nicola Cottam, Julie Gilbert, Jacqueline Jacobs and Ros Sadler.

Following them in a few minutes later was Paul Durham in a time of 3:57:48.

Eight GRC runners took on the challenge of the full marathon distance. The longer route went out further to Woolsthorpe and took competitors through long stretches of thick, muddy fields, though it did at least lack quite as many arduous hills as previous editions of the race.

After finishing third last year, Chris Limmer was hoping to place highly again this year and was running inside the top 10 at half way. However, disaster struck soon after as the soles of his shoes began coming away.

Frustrated, he dropped back but ultimately like others in the race would rather any minor mishaps happen here than in the many races which runners are training for later in the spring. In the end, Chris was able regain a few spots in the closing stages ,finishing in 3:50:58 for 16th place.

Following Chris closely and in 43rd place was Rob Howbrook who finished in 4:14:33. He was followed by Paul Rushworth in 4:18:54. Mark Hilson finished in 4:35:19 in 74th, with Nick Payne soon after but narrowly missing the top 100 as he finished in 101st in a time of 4:46:30.

Caroline Davis was next back in Harby in 5:00:37. The final two runners both agreed that the last five miles were the toughest as the thick mud that greeted runners for the final stretch stuck to their shoes, making them feel like lead weights. They did both do brilliantly though, with Cluadette Joint in 5:07:12 and Penny Hodges in 5:13:21.

l ‘Ten weeks to 10K’ graduate Ady Walker represented Grantham Running Club in the Tarpley 20-mile race, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

The race is named after Bert Tarpley who is a former president of the St Edmund Pacers running club.

With temperatures only just above freezing point, runners seemed reluctant to head outside on to the undulating course in the picturesque countryside.

Ady set off aiming for a sub-three hour finish in his first race at this distance. Feeling strong in the early stages of the race, he reached the 10-mile mark in 1hr 24min (more than five minutes ahead of schedule).

Unfortunately, this was to prove his downfall as he found the going tougher from mile 13 and his pace began to drop. By mile 17, cramp set in and a sub-three hour finish was looking doubtful.

Trailing runners started to pass Ady on a regular basis and he eventually crossed the line in a time of 3:04:55.

Ady said: “I learned a hard lesson on the importance of pacing the race correctly and sticking to the original race plan.

“I went off too fast and then paid the price, but on a positive note I have to remember that less than two years ago I would struggle to run 5K.”

Ady is now preparing for his first ever marathon in Manchester on April 8.