Grantham Running Club hosted the 2017 Summer Solstice 10K race at Long Bennington last Friday evening.
First run in 2010, the event again attracted more than 900 entrants and had 835 finishers, making it currently the largest club-organised road race in Lincolnshire.
From the moment the starting horn was blasted at 7.30pm, the men’s race established itself as a two-way battle between 2014 Solstice winner Ben Livesey (Notts AC/Royal Air Force) and 2015 victor and course record holder Shane Robinson (Lincoln Wellington AC), who was hoping to return to the top spot after finishing second last year.
In a closely fought battle, it was Shane who emerged victorious in 31min 46sec, 11 seconds clear of Ben and just 16 seconds outside the course record on an evening when a blustery wind made the going tough for much of the opening half of the race.
The women’s race saw Rebecca Gallop (Newark AC) hoping to finally claim victory, having finished third, fourth, fourth, and second on her previous four Solstice appearances. She faced tough competition in the form of twice World Duathlon Age Group Champion Claire Steels (unattached), who herself was hoping to win her first Solstice, having finished second in 2015.
Ultimately it was Rebecca who triumphed, her winning time of 37:53 more than a minute better than she had run before and 13 seconds quicker than second placed Claire.
Race hosts Grantham Running Club were able to field a large contingency of 40 runners, nine of whom had taken part in the club’s 10 Weeks to 10K (10W210K) campaign as a build-up to taking part in the race.
First home for GRC was Matthew Kingston-Lee, finishing seventh in 35:00. He was followed by Gav Meadows, who smashed his old PB with his first sub-40 minute performance, clocking a superb 38:59. Tony Johnson, Richard Payne, Matthew Williamson, and Andy Atter all broke 40 minutes, making it the strongest ever showing in a 10K race by the club.
First GRC woman home was Holly Durham, who was an excellent fifth, clocking 42:13. She was followed by Suzanne Britz, who was delighted with a new PB of 51:04, and 10W210K runner Rachael Smith, who clocked 54:41. There were 10 personal bests set on the night by GRC members. Stuart Batty was the first 10W210K finisher in 48:15.
The Summer Solstice 10K has gained a reputation for offering a race experience over and above what you would normally expect at a club-hosted race. Runners in the race village could enjoy, amongst other things, a pre-race group warm up from Biltong Farm co-owner and fitness instructor Rebecca Smith, post-race massage from Sophie Hunt and David McKee, food from North Field Farm, and post-race bubbles to celebrate from Vino Prosecco Bar.
The race also featured pacers for the first time. From Ian Boneham, the sub-40 minute pacer, to Nick Jones, the sub-70 minute pacer, pacers at five minute increments helped numerous runners achieve their time targets.
Moreover, to the delight of club chairman Matthew Kingston-Lee, a bottle of commemorative cider was also on offer for the first time to finishers in addition to the traditional ale and half pint glass.
“Once again I was blown away by the quality of the event staged by our club,” commented Matthew after the race. “Our new race director Ben Mason and his crew of volunteers, comprised entirely of club members, their friends and family, should be congratulated for organising a race that has now become, for many, one of the highlight races of the year. I’m looking forward already to the 2018 race!”