Superb overseas debut by Gainsborough Strider Croft in Amsterdam

DUTCH COURAGE -- James Croft, who produced a spectacular performance in the Mizuno Half-Marathon at Amsterdam.
DUTCH COURAGE -- James Croft, who produced a spectacular performance in the Mizuno Half-Marathon at Amsterdam.

A scintillating performance in his first race overseas made James Croft the happiest member of Gainsborough Striders this week.

Croft flew to the Netherlands to tackle the Mizuno Half-Marathon in Amsterdam. And although he suffered frustrating delays when trying to register, nothing could detract from his efforts in the race itself the following day.

He covered the 13 miles in 88 minutes, four seconds, which earned him a fantastic final placing of 268th out of almost 15,000 runners. Croft’s only disappointment was that he was just five seconds away from yet another personal-best (PB) time. But given the way he is running at the moment, that will surely be achieved soon.

Much closer to home, 11 Striders travelled to the Lincolnshire Wolds to take on the wonderfully named Gruesome Twosome races. Pairs of runners race over either ten miles or 10k, but their finishing time is not recorded until the second of them crosses the line.

The hilly nature of the trail courses means they are not events where runners can gain a PB, but that doesn’t prevent them being one of the most popular in the racing calendar.

The first Strider to finish the half-marathon distance was Will Lansdall, running with friend Tom Gelder. Their time was one hour, 41 minutes, which placed them 16th of the 223 pairs.

Behind them, three pairs of Striders were closely packed. Miia Wren and Hanna Bennett took 100th place with a time of 2.24.53, just one position and five seconds ahead of Jane Benson and Craig Ward. A mere 31 seconds behind them, in 104th place, were Stephen Toward, whose time was about 90 seconds faster than his 2015 effort, and Craig Williamson. Finally, Angela Boyle completed the course with friend Elizabeth Jackson in two hours, 20 minutes.

In the shorter, but equally hilly, 10k race, the father and daughter pairing of Mick and Abbie Wood surpassed their expectations by completing the run in 67.03, almost three minutes ahead of schedule. This placed them 43rd of 76 teams. Lottie Lindley ran with former Strider Shelly Ibbotson and their sub-60 minute time made them the seventh lady pairing.