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Grantham runners gauge form by Stamford 30K

Grantham Running Club sent a large team of 22 runners to the popular Stamford Striders St Valentine's 30K last Sunday – for many an important gauge of form for an upcoming spring marathon.

The undulating course benefited from a brisk tailwind for the first half, only for it to painfully test runners as it headed back south to Stamford.

With only a brief respite at the 13.5-mile Great Casterton turn towards Ryhall, the damage for most was already done, with even some of the quicker runners resorting to walk the constant hills.

Age-defying Rob Howbrook put in the men's performance of the day for GRC. (7443128)
Age-defying Rob Howbrook put in the men's performance of the day for GRC. (7443128)

The final test was provided at the 16-mile point at Little Casterton, where a seemingly never-ending hill was made doubly difficult by the familiar headwind leaving runners no longer interested in time, only getting back as strong as conditions would allow.

The first Grantham Running Club runner to finish was second claim member Jonathan Palmer, who finished 17th in an excellent 1hr 57min 29sec, representing Bourne Town Harriers. It was particularly impressive considering Jonny, who is training for an upcoming ultra race, had run 20 miles the previoius day.

Andrew Pask was the first wearing the green of GRC to cross the finish line at Stamford Welland Academy School. Hopeful of beating his 2018 time, Andrew was a touch disappointed to finish 44 seconds shy in 2:11:08; but his training is still on track for a good performance at the London Marathon.

Next home was 30km debutant Grant Davies. Grant went out hard for the opening half of the race, taking just under an hour, only for a lack of endurance training to take its toll later on; he crossed the line in 2:13:44. Grant was followed by Matt Kidd with 2:18:35.

The men’s performance of the day came from Robert Howbrook, who ran one of the few personal bests at the race with 2:18:26, finishing an impressive second in the V60 age category. Robert now heads to the Barcelona Marathon in March with high hopes of a new PB.

Next was another runner heading to Barcelona, Gav Meadows, with 2:19:39, some way off his best but hopeful of a better performance in kinder conditions.

Tony Johnson (2:24:58) limped the final four miles after setting off at a pace that would have seen him finish inside 2:10.

The first lady home for GRC was the ever dependable and age-defying Catherine Payne. Returning to form following a lengthy injury lay-off, Catherine will be fairly happy with her 2:25:28, a few minutes off her best but good enough for second in the FV50 age category.

Following on was Holly Durham (2:25:47), Chris Limmer(2:28:23) and Robert McArdle (2:33:05).

Chris, who is training for a 100-mile ultra race in May, would usually be looking to finish this race in under two hours. Using the event as an opportunity to put in a quality long run, he opted to run some 25.5 miles from Grantham to Stamford before the race. Completing the race meant he had clocked over 44 miles for the day. Thankfully he was given a lift back to Grantham after the race!

Caroline Davies provided arguably the stand-out GRC ladies' performance and the one of the few PBs on the day, smashing her previous best by six minutes with an impressive 2:41:54. Liam Vincent will also be happy to have beaten his 2018 time by over four minutes with 2:50:13.

There were 30km debuts for Joe Diggins (2:24:59), Simon Smith (2:34:25), Samuel Jepson-Rivers (2:36:55), Harriet Siebenaller (2:41:10), Craig Drury (2:42:25) and Jack Dodwell (2:58:46). Other GRC finishers were Ben Mason (2:46:06), Gordon Geach (2:47:06), Warren Stark (2:53:12) and Sam Clark (2:59:03).

In keeping with the Valentine's theme, finishers were rewarded with a pink T-shirt, a love heart-shaped medal and the obligatory pack of Love Heart sweets.

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