Grand Prix #11, Surrey Spitfire 20, 18th March 2012

 Where Saturday was windy and wet, Sunday dawned sunny and bright for the longest race on the Grand Prix schedule. The race starts at Dunsfold Aerodrome, allowing petrol heads to try to work out which corner is which on the Top Gear test track. It also allows for a hugely exposed first few miles, and though we were lucky with the weather the beginning of the 10mile loop was into a headwind both times.

Chat before the start was all about the course – “I’ve heard it’s flat” “Oh no, it’s hilly, I was cycling it last week” “Hilly or undulating” – and it turned out that this was not a flat course. The first 3 miles are within the aerodrome, and as flat as you like, before a hilly mostly-up middle section and a more gentle mostly-down end. Although this is quite an expensive race, the marshals were uniformly encouraging, water stations were set up every 3 miles or so and even included gels and the organisation was very smooth. Despite there being nearly 900 runners there was plenty of room for everyone to get the start they wanted. I started fairly near the back and still only have a 40 second gap between gun and chip time (note that the times below are gun times, but I’ve used chip timing in the Grand Prix results).

26.2 scattered for the start. Karen Hardy took up a luminous position at the first water station, Maria Cenelma was a little further round the course trying to remember everyone’s name whilst holding out water, while Neil Sunderland had an easy marshal position, making sure people didn’t make a 90degree right turn into a side road. Mike Bryant gave loud and enthusiastic support on the final corner, managing to maintain his enthusiasm even when he realised that his position meant he’d have to be there all day and probably miss out on cakes. Thank you all for your support, hope you enjoy whichever race you take as your reward for marshalling.

Continuing the theme of partnering up for long runs, we had a couple of running couples – no gossip here – for the day, with Matthew Pritchard and Libby Marchant staying absolutely in step for 10 mile split 20 mile chip and 20 mile gun time, which is harder to do than you might think. Grant Davison and Natacha Goul-Wheeker ran together for most of the race before Natacha left him behind at 18 miles or so. Andrea Bennett and Kevin Furlong were also together for much of the race, leaving Sue Garnish to try to chase down Ann Bath, so if Sunday proved anything it’s that running together can get you a long way.

Up front, Jack Holland continues to get quicker by the week, it seems, finishing 9th overall and with a great age-graded score for such a distance – usually the percentages go up for shorter distances, but this was Jack’s best score of the year. The same is true of Ed Brunskill, who ran at substantially better than 7 minute mile pace, producing a time that would normally be the club-lead over this distance. I had a decent run, accelerating into the last few miles thanks to a pacing job by the runner who finished ahead of me, which helped me to a big negative split, and pacing Jason Blair on the way who was slowing a little but still producing a respectable time. First lady Zoe Ashcroft took the win and nipped under the 8min/mile mark, also taking the top place on both grand prix tables for the first time this year, albeit with Aimee and Ann having a race in hand to try to take the past the post and age-graded titles respectively. Mike Gray and Greg Whiteman looked capable of continuing at the end, and both set times that suggest marathon goals are well within view.

Congratulations to another who is improving fast, Steve Ramek, who completed the 10 mile race and then stuck around to cheer us through the 10 mile point and in to the finish.

Photos are at http://gallery.sussexsportphotography.com/gallery.tlx?containerid=200560

Well run everyone. Full Grand prix tables are available in the downloads section, and the final GP for the year is Kingston parkrun: your best time in April counts. Pegs and I will summarise each week as we go along.

Position Time Name 10 mile split
9 02:04:07 Jack Holland 01:01:20
34 02:14:23 Edward Brunskill 01:06:50
70 02:20:51 John Matthews 01:13:35
75 02:23:10 Jason Blair 01:08:24
230 02:39:53 Zoe Ashcroft 01:18:27
402 02:55:39 Greg Whiteman 01:27:42
441 02:57:58 Matthew Pritchard 01:28:46
442 02:57:58 Elizabeth Marchant 01:28:46
460 02:59:13 Natacha Goul-Wheeker* 01:29:46
478 03:01:17 Grant Davison 01:29:45
518 03:05:09 Mike Gray 01:31:59
537 03:06:42 Ann Bath 01:30:16
554 03:07:52 Sue Garnish 01:32:50
647 03:19:56 Andrea Bennett 01:36:50
697 03:27:56 Kevin Furlong 01:36:50

* Not in club kit, so not eligible for grand prix points. Still gains huge kudos for ditching Grant for being too slow.

Mens –  Past The Post Total
Jack Holland 155
Jason Blair 137
Joe Chang 126
John Matthews 115
Mens –  Age Graded Total
Jack Holland 145
Jason Blair 127
John Matthews 119
Joe Chang 112
Steve Watkins 103

 

Ladies –  Past The Post Total
Zoe Ashcroft 169
Aimee Billington 159
Libby Marchant 158

 

Ladies –  Age Graded Total
Zoe Ashcroft 165
Ann Bath 152
Aimee Billington 150
Libby Marchant 142