ATHLETICS: Grantham runners battle snow for marathon prep

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A total of 10 members of Grantham Running Club took part in the Folksworth 15 on Sunday.

The 15-mile road race, which is organised by Yaxley Runners, is the first of three races regularly used by local runners to prepare for a spring marathon. The course is an undulating two laps, starting in Folksworth village and also passing through the villages of Morborne and Caldecote.

The weather conditions for running on the day can be described in one word – horrendous! It was snowing at the start and things only got worse from there. By the time runners started their second lap, the wind had picked up significantly, meaning a brutal and very chilly headwind on the long, gradual climb out of Morborne.

First to finish for GRC was Andrew Pask who crossed the line in 50th position overall. He recorded a time of 1hr 45min 39sec – very impressive indeed given the conditions. Closely following was Gav Meadows who had led the way for GRC until the brutal second Morborne hill climb took its toll. He clocked 1:45:56 and placed 52nd overall. Both runners averaged a few seconds over seven minutes per mile – close to the pace they hope to maintain at the Rotterdam Marathon in April.

Next to finish was Peter Bonner who had an eventful race to say the least. He suffered a nasty fall after slipping on a patch of ice and sustained nasty cuts to his elbow and leg. Despite this, he still managed to break the 1:50 barrier by one second, placing 80th overall.

Exactly two minutes behind Peter was Catherine Payne in 89th position overall with a time 1:51:59. She picked up a prize, finishing first in the Female Veteran 50 category. She was also the 13th female overall.

Robert McArdle narrowly missed out on a category prize, finishing fourth in the Male Veteran 55 category. He comfortably broke the two hour barrier with a time of 1:57:14 and averaged well under eight minutes per mile for the race. Mark Hillson was next to finish with a solid 2:03:05, followed by Penny Hodges (2:05:18) who placed seventh in the Female Veteran 35 category.

All three remaining runners produced creditable performances on a day when just getting over the finish line was an achievement. Caroline Davis put her recent injury concerns behind her, posting a time of 2:15:32.

Liam Vincent clocked 2:17:36 despite feeling under the weather before the race. Gordon Geach was the final GRC runner home in 2:34:23 and made no secret of the fact that he hadn’t enjoyed the conditions at all. It was a challenging day and it’s safe to say that he wasnot alone.

l Grantham Running Club’s cross country captain Sarah High brought the season to a triumphant conclusion by winning her overall age category for this year’s competition.

GRC were represented by a strong team on a technical and testing course at the fourth and final fixture of the North Midlands Cross Country League which took place at Wollaton Park, Nottingham.

Sarah led home the ladie’s team with Caroline Davis, who was donning her spikes for the first time after injury, closely followed by Nicola Cottam who had competed in all four races in this season’s league.

In the longer men’s race, veteran Rob Howbrook was the first man home, just ahead of the fast finishing Peter Bonner who, like Daniel Howson and Kevin Kettle, had also chalked up all four races. Other finishers in order were Chris Toon and Andrew MacAllister.