This week ended on February 26, or 26.2… now what does that remind us of? Yes marathons! Usually not in the race calendar until April, the ‘out of season’ marathon appears to be becoming a regular feature…

February 26 is known as “marathon day” and for one brave lady it was debut marathon day. Liz Jones faced up to the wind and ran her first marathon at the Betteshanger Cycle Park in a time of 5 hours 32 minutes and 16 seconds.
Accompanying Liz Jones at her marathon debut was husband Matt with his second attempt at the distance. Matthew Jones finished his 26.2 miles in 3:29:17, an 11 minute personal best time that was good enough for 5th place.

[Matthew Jones and Liz Jones after completing their marathons on marathon day]

And from those commencing their marathon careers to a master at the distance: Paul Blackwell was also celebrating marathon day. Blackwell finished his laps of the Cycle Park in 4:47:20.

The day before, Blackwell had also completed the 100 Marathon Club AGM Marathon: a race held before the annual general meeting of the club. He finished that race in 4:49:15 having battled gale force winds that were the beginnings of storm Ewan.

Saturday also saw the weekly pilgrimage to parkrun. There was a GBRC take over event at Clacton Seafront meaning that the coastal course was supported by blue-clad marshals and some of the club ran the course for the first time as pacers.
Ryan Day was first finisher at the event in a time of 18:18 (just two seconds shy of his personal best for the course). He was followed by first timers on the course Benjamin Ficken (20:02) and Paul Connell (22:02).
Patrick Reynolds showed some pacing expertise stopping the clock in 24:00 dead, he was swiftly joined by Brian Telford who, after warming up by setting the course signage out, crossed the line in 24:23.
Scott Young finished in 25:59; Robert Thorpe completed his run in 30:15; Davina Swindell crossed the line in 32:24; and volunteering as tail runner was Claire Reynolds who finished in 52:26.

[GBRC take over the volunteer roles at Clacton Seafront parkrun]


Also experiencing a take over event was Mersea Island, where members of the Facebook group Running Colchester filled the volunteer positions. Being local to Bentley, the club also has members who participate in the Running Colchester group and helped at this take over event too.
Charlie Keitch got overly excited when pacing 23 minutes and finished in 22:29. Keitch was followed by Andy Stephens who was running the course for the first time and set a time of 22:49.
Lee Clarkson completed his 5000m in 23:55, on time for his pacing target of 24:00.
Megan Hughes was the next GBRC member over the line in a personal best time of 30:34.
Helene Tyler took on the Mersea course for the first time and stopped the clock in 33:07. Volunteering as tail runner was Linzi Iddon who coached the last runner round the course that morning in a time of 45:03.

There were four runners at Colchester Castle parkrun: Richard Moor crossed the line in 19:53; Colin Farmer in 21:38; Luke Groves, who was running his 46th parkrun and finished in 26:26; and Alison Clarke, who crossed the line in 30:10.

Going it alone at Harwich parkrun was Cherie Hipkin with a time of 27:38.

On Sunday it was the turn of Great Bentley’s younger members at junior parkrun. junior parkrun is for 4 to 14 year olds and comprises a 2km course. Personal best runs came from Caitlyn Hughes (12:03); Mia Iddon (20:16); and Rufus Keitch (12:20) who was also celebrating receiving his marathon wristband for having completed 21 runs (equating to a marathon).
Elliot Wright finished his 2000m in 20:31; Megan Hughes back up her saturday parkrun with junior parkrun in 11:26; Angel Jasper completed the course with Rufus Keitch in 12:20; and Chloe Iddon crossed the line in 16:14.

Looking again at the”grown up” members of the club, nine runners represented the club at the Tarpley 10 and Tarpley 20 races.
First for the club to come home on the 10 mile course was Antoinette Wilson in a time of 1:22:55 and taking home the accolade of 2nd in the female veteran 55 category. Wilson was followed by Caroline Searle, who ran a personal best time of 1:28:14.
Karen Skene was back racing for the first time in 7 months. Skene ran the course together with Gemma Colling, the pair finished in 1:29:46 and 1:29:57 respectively.
Sue Thomas finished her race in 1:43:31, a best time since she moved into the female veteran 50 category.
John Bush was the sole GBRC male representative in the 10 mile race and finished in 1:48:01.
On the 20 mile course there were three blue vests on show: Chris Warren finished as the second male in the 40 – 45 category in a time of 2:12:30. Warren was 12th overall. David Goldsmith finished 45th overall in 2:27:06; and Frank Gardiner finished in 3:05:20. Gardiner placed 3rd in the male 60 – 65 category.

For something a little different, Rebecca Conran decided to visit a theme park in Winter. The Thorpe Park half marathon started and ended among the rollercoasters. Conran completed her race in 2:02:21, a personal best time for her first race in four months.