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Grantham Running Club return from Nottingham via the canal



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Proving once again that runners love a mad challenge, Grantham Running Club held their first ‘canalathon’ last Saturday.

The slightly bonkers idea was the brainchild of Chris Limmer who organised the event with the aim to run all the way from Nottingham Railway Station back to town along Grantham Canal, a distance of some 33.5 miles.

Joining Chris for the whole distance were Caroline Davis and Kate Marshall. Chris and Caroline Davis are both experienced ultra-runners and are used to the physical demands of prolonged time on their feet, but for Kate it was to be her longest run ever.

Up for the 'canalathon' challenge - Grantham Running Club members Chris LImmer, Kate Marshall and Caroline Davis. (57076967)
Up for the 'canalathon' challenge - Grantham Running Club members Chris LImmer, Kate Marshall and Caroline Davis. (57076967)

The three were not alone in their endeavour, however, and gathered clubmates at various points along the way. Runners were able to use an online tracker to arrange when and where to join up with the three, and the numbers swelled throughout the event.

Having started at 8am, the first hour or two were punctuated with walk breaks to conserve energy so that they could enjoy the later miles with clubmates. Before long, the intrepid trio were joined by Dale Towning, at Cropwell Bishop, who would be on bike support and would to prove invaluable later in the day as legs and minds became tired.

Selfie time at the canal's Tollerton Bridge for Grantham Running Club's Kate Marshall, Chris Limmer and Caroline Davis. (57076964)
Selfie time at the canal's Tollerton Bridge for Grantham Running Club's Kate Marshall, Chris Limmer and Caroline Davis. (57076964)

This next section was arguably the toughest mentally for the three running the whole canal and there was a feeling of relief when they finally made it to Harby with 19.5 miles and more than three-and-a-half hours in their feet.

At this point, the three runners and cyclist were met by several other GRC members. For Kate, seeing her husband Fraser and many familiar faces certainly gave a much needed mental boost with at least another 13 miles to go before the finish.

Alongside Fraser they were joined by Simon Allsopp, Penny Hodges and Sarah High for the next section to Redmile.

Of course, in any long-distance challenge there are obstacles and unexpected things which can stop forward progress in its tracks. The canalathon was no different and somewhere between Harby and Redmile it was a local swan with its new-born cygnets that made its unhappiness to the runners known. Thankfully, Dale used his bike to help shepherd it away while the runners nipped by.

Upon reaching Redmile at 24.5 miles, what had started as a trio became 11 as another group of members joined. With more than five hours running since leaving Nottingham station, this was a much-needed boost.

Reinforcements came in numbers at Woolsthorpe's Dirty Duck public house. (57076958)
Reinforcements came in numbers at Woolsthorpe's Dirty Duck public house. (57076958)

An hour later, the throng swelled further when they passed Woolsthorpe and met the final group of runners. Eleven suddenly became nearly 30 and, having posed for a photo and made the most of the chance to rehydrate and take on some much-needed calories, they set off for the final four miles of the canal.

Grantham Running Club members single-file it along the canal path. (57076961)
Grantham Running Club members single-file it along the canal path. (57076961)

Runners chatted away and were all in good spirits despite the many miles run. With moods lifted and legs re-energised, those on tired limbs suddenly felt lighter knowing that the finish line was now less than an hour away.

GRC chairman Andrew Pask led the faster runners home to the finish at the start of the canal. He was soon followed by a trickle of runners that quickly became a steady stream of athletes, many of whom had run further than they had before, or had for some time.

The final group, which included Kate, was given a resounding cheer from everyone else as she finished her longest ever run, more than seven hours after getting off the train at Nottingham station.

All members were wholly complimentary of the event, and many are already looking towards a possible repeat next year.



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