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Grantham Running Club take part in the Lincolnshire County Cross Country Championships

The highlight of the local cross-country season for Grantham Running Club - the Lincolnshire Championship - took place on Saturday.

With little time to dust down from the excesses of the festive season, it was straight into what can only be described as one of the most interesting, intense, and downright toughest event of the season.

The deluge brought by the storms of December and early January had, unsurprisingly, pock-marked the landscape and swelled the infamous river crossings so much so that legitimate fears for safety resulted in a re-route across the bridge on one of the crossings.

Grantham Running Club at the Lincolnshire Championships. Photo: Rachel Hamilton
Grantham Running Club at the Lincolnshire Championships. Photo: Rachel Hamilton

Curiously, or kindly, the weather on the day abated with only the course waiting to wallop several bells out of the runners.

First off was the men's race of approximately 9.5km.

First home for GRC was men’s captain Samuel Jepson in 22nd in 42:55, stacking it early on but recovering well.

The experienced Peter Bonner, another strong acquittal, finished 31st in 44:35.

The remarkably clean James McMullen enjoyed his Biscathorpe baptism, placing 47th (46:56).

Road loving Robin Atter was back for more torture (56th in 48:45) and the experienced Rob Howbrook showed his class, finishing second in the V60 category (61st overall in 49:21).

Rachel Hamilton. Photo: Colin Wright
Rachel Hamilton. Photo: Colin Wright

A spirited Jason Walker followed in close touch to finish 65th in 50:27 after fighting all the way to the line.

‘Paul Squared’ finished next, both praising the test, or perhaps decrying it's brutality – Paul Davis 75th in 53:35 and Paul Jepson in a neat 55:55.

Craig Drury's favourite event of the year saw him place 87th in 57:49.

The last event of the day saw the ladies race over the 5.7k distance.

Holly Durham was eventually the leading lady, even gunning a sprint finish to see off a rival and maintain her eighth place finish. Her time for posterity was 29:26.

It was the gutsy Rachel Hamilton who perhaps had the story of the day, recovering from a bout of covid the week before, she was nevertheless running strongly before the last river crossing saw her fall in . . . in spectacular fashion.

It emerged after that this fractured her toe in the process but she still finished in 30:59 and ‘enjoying’ herself.

Harriet Morgan's 12th place was indicative of her solid run for the cross-country loving gazelle.

Jo Grace and ladies captain Sarah High were in very close order as Jo just pipped Sarah to the line in 32:57 and 32:59 respectively.

Next, the returning Caroline Davis and event debutant Zane Wojtowicz both relished the challenge and find some delight in the sense of achievement.

Caroline was 21st in 33:47 and Zane finished 23rd in 34:37.

With smiles written large upon their faces all the way round and feeling the camaraderie and that special cross-country spirit woven into the club, Paula Ebbins and Rosalind Sadler brought the ladies team home, finishing in 39:03 and 39:05 and 34th and 35th place.

A grand day out encapsulated the beauty and beast of cross-country running. Special thanks to all the organisers, officials and volunteers for the work setting up and on the day.

Several hardy members of Grantham Running Club took part in the third fixture of the North Midlands Cross-Country League at Shipley Park in Heanor.

Staged around parkland with a few hilly sections and a short stretch through woodland, the event was a proper cross country experience.

Grantham Running Club took part in the third fixture of the North Midlands Cross-Country League at Shipley Park in Heanor.
Grantham Running Club took part in the third fixture of the North Midlands Cross-Country League at Shipley Park in Heanor.

Along with the very cold and frosty weather conditions, the testing course was quite hard and bumpy underfoot, with some muddy patches and even a bit of water at the bottom of one hill.

In the ladies race, Caroline Davis and Sarah High both put in strong runs in their 7.4K, two-lap course with Sarah finishing first for GRC in a time of 39.13, second in her age group, and Caroline following shortly after in a time of 39.47.

Claire Smith, in her first cross-country event for the club, put in a great effort in the challenging conditions to bring the team home. The ladies remain in fifth position overall in the league.

For the men's team, Grantham acquitted themselves well against a strong, competitive field of 203 participants, with the ever impressive Peter Bonner leading the team home and finishing in a time of 43.43.

Rob Howbrook put in strong performance, finishing second for GRC and first in his age category.

Jason Walker ran another good race, finishing strongly in third place for the club.

Cross country stalwarts Peter Jennings, Paul Davis and Andrew MacAllister were the next to complete the testing course, each putting in a fine effort.

Chris Smith, also in his first cross-country race for the club, brought the team home. He reported that he really enjoyed the experience despite it being really tough.

All in all, along with the with the great, supportive atmosphere between club members, it was a great afternoon of cross-country.

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