Hours of long training paid off for Jane Benson, of the Gainsborough and Morton Striders club, when she opened her 2017 ultra-marathon season in style.
Benson tackled the renowned Endure 24 race at Wasing Park, near Reading in Berkshire, which attracted no fewer than 3,000 runners, cheered on by large and enthusiastic crowds.
She had to complete as many five-mile laps of the woodland course as possible between 12 midday on the Saturday and exactly the same time the following day.
Her run went to plan for the first 75 miles before blisters forced her to slow her pace. But knuckling down and showing grit and determination, Benson managed to get to 100 miles, which was good enough to give her third place of the 88 ladies taking part.
Closer to home, at Normanby Hall, a dozen Striders entered the popular 10K race there, and half of them returned home with new personal-best (PB) times to show for their efforts.
Mat Huteson was the first club member to finish in a time of 35.18 minutes, a one-second improvement on his previous best. James Croft followed him home in 37.44, which knocked 51 seconds off his previous best.
Maureen Allen nabbed her second PB in successive weeks with her time of 66.50, while the other PBs came from Alison Howe, who improved by 15 seconds to 66.51, and Claire Cutts, who improved by 80 seconds to 68.12.
Making their 10K debuts for the club were Aaron Hill and Victoria Walker, who finished with respectable times of 39.54 and 67.42 respectively. Shaun Boyle was also satisfied with his return of 51.43 in what was his first race back after injury, while other Strider times were 64.37 from Lisa Wells and Helen Newton, and 67.42 from Tracey Cutts.
Meanwhile the Clumber Park 10K in north Nottinghamshire attracted nine Striders. The pick of the performances was supplied by Clare Haywood, who sliced almost four minutes off her previous best time as she smashed through the hour barrier with 59.13 minutes.
Dawn Bottoms was another club debutant and was rewarded for her 54.48 finish with third place in the female veterans over-55 age group. But the first club member home was Wayne Greenfield, who underlined his versatility by clocking 39.19 in what was the fifth different distance he has tackled in 2017.
Clare Hardwick logged in at 56.41, which was just four seconds behind Ian Haldenby, whose wife, Rachel, arrived at the finishing line almost nine minutes later.
Ruth Marples and Helen Clarke finished together in 69.04, and just behind them, Clare Carney and Jayne Hunt caused much amusement at the finish as it transpired that the aim of their sprint to the line was solely to overtake a spectator on a mobility scooter! They succesfully made it and posted a time of 69.47.
The latest national rankings were released over the weekend, and brought much good news for Striders, particularly for young Thomas Sweeting. He has risen from 46th place to 14th in the U11s’ age group and considering he has more than a year left at that level, more progress can be anticipated.
The club continue to stage their weekly training sessions. The juniors meet at 5.30 pm on Tuesdays at Gainsborough Academy on Corringham Road, while the seniors meet at 6.30 pm on Thursdays at Queen Elizabeth’s High School on Morton Terrace and also at 7.30 pm on Tuesdays at Gainsborough Academy.
Anyone interested in joining the club, which has been running now since 1983, is advised to visit its website.