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Grantham Running Club find perfect conditions at Manchester

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A large contingent of Grantham Running Club headed north for the Manchester Marathon.

The race, like many others, had been postponed several times and those who made the start were greeted with perfect weather for running.

Even for those starting in one of the later groups of runners, the temperature did not climb too high and there was barely a noticeable breeze.

Grantham Running Club's Sam Dodwell improved his marathon time by a staggering two hours and 50 minutes at Manchester. (52598674)
Grantham Running Club's Sam Dodwell improved his marathon time by a staggering two hours and 50 minutes at Manchester. (52598674)

The course itself started and finished next to the Old Trafford cricket ground and featured a loop of the city centre after around five miles, before heading south-west to Sale and Altrincham, and then finishing back near the start.

The GRC runners in the first few waves set the tone for what was to follow.

Three of the first four runners set impressive personal bests and in doing so nearly broke the magical three hour barrier, none closer than Joe Diggins who had a phenomenal run and smashed his official marathon PB by more than 50 minutes and narrowly missed sub-three hours by just nine seconds. He ran most of this alongside Joe Clarke who also set a big PB by 10 minutes with 3:03:41.

Dean Riggall had been struggling with a minor niggle in the final week or two before the race and was aiming to run close to sub-three and, much like the two Joes he got close and in doing so ran a personal best in 3:01:28. He was just ahead of Chris Limmer who faded in the last five miles but still ran a credible 3:02:16.

In the hours that followed, the fantastic GRC performances kept on coming. There were PBs for many including a massive improvement in his second official marathon by Sam Dodwell (3:40:52) who ran an incredible two hours and 50 minutes quicker than he did in the heat of London in 2018.

Holly Durham bounced back from falling ill with Covid two weeks before the race to run 3:33:10. Hannah San Jose paced her own race perfectly to break four hours for the first time and ran a 15 minute PB in doing so (3:56:46). John Nevard too ran an 11 minute PB (4:36:09).

There were a number running their very first marathons and these debutants ably demonstrated the strength of character to complete the 26.2 miles.

Rick Brewer was the first of these, running 3:23:59 in an impressive first marathon. Other first timers included Dale Towning, who ran his first marathon only two years after finishing the GRC 10 weeks to 10km (5:22:13) and already has his sights firmly set on improving at next April's Manchester Marathon.

Sylv Hull (4:49:46) and Sian Mills (4:40:32) ran fantastic debuts too and were both delighted to run sub-five hours. GRCs final debutante was Esther Fraser Betts in 5:03:49.

For some, Manchester was not even their first marathon of October, with four running just a week after finishing the London Marathon.

Matthew Atter and Aaron Smith ran dressed up in Super Mario outfits, complete with fake moustaches, and not only ran a highly impressive time of 3:32:57 but raised more than £1,000.

Not to be outdone, Warren Stark bought a bit of the Caribbean to Manchester, hobbling home in 4:18 in fancy dress. Just as impressive was Caroline Davis who ran just 21 seconds slower than her time in London the week previous (3:56:38).

The PBs kept coming. Those in the latter waves having the additional challenge of managing their pre race meals and fuelling around a 12 o clock start. Amongst these were Suzanne Angeloni who ran 5:13:36 a pb by 48 minutes!

Other GRC finishers were Ian McBain (3:30:35), Sarah High (4:04:27), Simon Smith (4:06:49) and Yvonne Buckley (5:53:18).

The runners were full of praise for the event and organisation with many already signed up to next year's event in early April.

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