Grantham Running Club out in force for London Marathon
Nineteen members of Grantham Running Club joined the 40,000 other runners taking part in the London Marathon last Sunday.
After a scorching 2018 edition, the overcast and relatively cool conditions were favourable for marathon running. The light to moderate breeze was not too much of an issue on the London streets, well protected by buildings, runners and the near-overwhelming volume of spectators lining the near entirety of the 26.2-mile course.
First of the 14 first claim GRC finishers to cross the line was V50 runner Tony Johnson. In recent weeks, Tony has raced himself into top form for London and he ran a superbly judged race to clock 2hr 59min 42sec, breaking the magical three hour barrier for the first time since 2014.
Andrew Pask, who was representing the RAF and had the privilege of starting from the Championship Start, harboured similar ambitions time-wise but began to struggle shortly before halfway after a strong start. He suffered the ignominy of hitting the proverbial wall not long after 21 miles, finishing somewhat despondently in 3:12:44. But he has already signed himself up for an autumn marathon where ‘Project Sub3’ will be the target again.
There was frustration of a different sort for Catherine Payne who was very pleased with her performance given her lengthy lay-off in 2018 with injury, but suffered a timing chip failure which meant her efforts took more than a week to be officially recognised as 3:19:57. Her age grade of 83.68 per cent is exceptional, particularly for the marathon which usually yields lower scores than races over a shorter distance.
There was nothing but joy for Sam Clark who simply loved the entire London Marathon experience, clocking a respectable 3:30:47 which was just a couple of minutes outside his best set at Manchester in 2018. He was followed by seasoned campaigner Rob McArdle (3:41:21) who has run numerous marathons all over Britain and Europe in recent years, but had not run London since 2013.
Liam Vincent came home next in 3:46:36, an impressive 22 minutes quicker than his previous best marathon time set at Brighton in 2017. Caroline Davis, who had smashed her personal best at the Manchester Marathon three weeks prior, again ran excellently to clock her second fastest ever marathon with 3:48:23.
Gordon Geach, running at London for the first time since 2014, was pleased to achieve his target of breaking four hours, which he did with 24 seconds to spare (3:59:36).
With nothing showing on his Power of 10 profile other than some parkrun efforts, Cameron Hoggan ran well in his first marathon to clock 4:01:21. Sarah High, who finished in 4:11:23, had a very fine run that saw her exceed 70 per cent on age grade. She finished just ahead of Hannah San Jose who had an injury-plagued build-up to her debut marathon but was delighted to finish in 4:12:40.
Having both run the Manchester Marathon earlier in the month, Julie Gilbert (5:12:14) and Ros Sadler (5:12:15) ran London together to raise funds for CLIC Sargent. This was a repeat of the feat Julie managed in 2018. Ros made her first appearance at London having run Manchester in 2018.
They were closely followed by Kathleen Gray who made her marathon debut raising funds for the RNIB. As someone who three years ago ‘couldn’t run to my local Post Office,’ Kathleen ranked the experience as one of the best days of her life.
The final first claim GRC runner to finish was Julie Riggall, who returned to the capital a year on from making her marathon debut. She was disappointed with her time of 5:48:38 but had been hampered with injury issues in the build-up to the race.
Four second claim members of Grantham Running Club also took part in the London Marathon. Jonny Palmer of Bourne Town Harriers had a sensational race to clock 2:37:43, bettering his old PB by more than seven minutes and clocking the fastest marathon time by a member of GRC.
Mark Wilson of Belvoir Tri Club ran well to clock 3:19:10, less than 10 minutes outside his PB set in 2016. Fellow triathlete Sophie Davies was in the ‘decidedly disappointed’ camp, coming home in 3:41:58, having set her eyes on breaking 3:30.
Finally, a special mention to Paul Davidson of Grantham Athletics Club, who first ran the London Marathon in 1986, clocked his PB at the 1987 race (2:42:52), and last ran there in 1994. In recent years, Paul has been a guide runner to several visually impaired athletes at many races and this year Paul returned to London to guide his friend Netty Stevens around London in a time of 5:17:53.
For the first time, his and other guides' efforts were recognised with an official finishing time and medal at the London Marathon.
As well as those taking part, several members of the club went down to spectate at various points along the route. Considered by some as nearly as arduous and stressful as taking part itself, their support was much appreciated by all.