A field of 306 runners completed the Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon on Sunday 2nd September, rising to the challenge with course times ranging from seventy-five minutes to just a shade over two and a half hours. With a reputation as a tough but enjoyable and well-organised event, the Fraction drew entries from clubs throughout the local area and from as far away as Manchester and Shipley, Yorkshire. It could hardly have been a starker contrast from conditions back in March when Grantham Athletic Club took the difficult decision to postpone the race after the Beast from the East had made conditions too treacherous to go ahead. Instead of snow and ice, runners were faced with temperatures of 25 degrees with little cloud cover.
The annual road race commenced from the Meres Stadium on Trent Road – the only half marathon in the region to start and finish in an athletics stadium – before heading out via Barrowby to the canal. The runners enjoyed the newly restored sections of the towpath and canal courtesy of the hard work of the Grantham Canal Society, though it was noticeable how much higher the vegetation was after a long, hot summer compared to how it looks during the usual March time slot. Leaving the waterway at the Dirty Duck, the race reached its halfway point in Woolsthorpe-by-Belvior before heading back up Cliff Road towards Denton, back to Barrowby via Casthorpe Road and finishing with a victory lap of the stadium’s running track. By far the biggest challenges on the route are the 0.7 mile, 60-metre elevation on Cliff Road, and the gentler, but more relentless 1.7-mile slog up Casthorpe Hill, with its 54-metre climb. It was very clear from the looks on many athletes’ faces that the latter had taken it out of them as they approached the 10-mile mark. More than a few later commented that their times were slower than they would have hoped because of the heat, and people were particularly pleased to see the next water station.
First home and winner of the men’s race was senior Ben Evison in 1:16:58, a couple of minutes away from his personal best. Second was another senior, Holme Pierrepont Running Club member Eddy George, in 1:20:54. Third place went to Chris Bannister of Steel City Striders Running Club, in the 45-49 age category, with 1:22:59.
Winner of the women’s race was 35-39 age category runner Natalie Teece from the Stilton Striders in 1:30:16, position 18 overall, and also the winner of the women’s race in 2017. “The weather certainly made it more challenging than anticipated and affected my time quite a lot,” said Teece after the race, “However, it was great to be back running the race and despite the tough hills it’s a really scenic course and is so friendly and well-organised; it’s becoming one of my favourite half marathons. I’ll definitely be back next year!” Suzannah Flemming was second in 1:38:52, while Michelle Brett came third with 1:39:09.
Host club Grantham Athletic Club had two athletes in the top twenty, with Seamus Sheard coming 17th with 1:29:55 and Will Tucker in 20th, exactly one minute later. Alan Carley achieved a time of 1:43:40, while Arthur Short came home in 1:53:45. Paul Davidson came home in 2:05:53, running as the partner to visually-impaired runner Mark Ellis.
Among the more memorable runners was who ran dressed as a baby to raise money for the National Autism Society, for whom he has so far raised an impressive £3,000. Storey completed in a highly respectable 1:36:05 – not bad for someone running in a nappy!
Run Director and President of Grantham Athletic Club Dave Eldridge said, “By holding the Newton’s Fraction in September we didn’t have the worry of snow and ice and instead had the decent weather to make a good race. The athletes coped well with the heat and the drinks stations kept them well hydrated. Many of the runners came up to me afterwards and said how well organised it was and how much they enjoyed the racing experience. As a club we’ll think very carefully about whether we want to move the race to this time of year permanently given the state of the weather in spring. Out of the 13 times we’ve run it in March, we’ve only had two years where the weather was actually decent!
“Grantham Athletic Club would like to thank the marshals and the host of support staff for their hard work and expertise without whom this event couldn’t take place. A huge thanks to all our sponsors; Brewster’s Brewery, Eat Natural, Lincolnshire Runner, Adidas and Gala Bingo for your support. We would also like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the people of Grantham for their continuing support of the Fraction, particularly those affected by road closures. Finally, of course, we’d like to congratulate all of the terrific athletes that came and made this race so special.”
Newton’s Fraction will return in 2019.
- Full results for the Newton’s Fraction can be accessed from http://www.chiptiminguk.co.uk/results/newtons-fraction-half-marathon2
- Featured image of the start of Newton’s Fraction 2018 above by Shaun Parks of SParx Photographic. For more of Shaun’s photographs from the Stadium, please see here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sparx_tog/sets/72157699327057081
- Alan Roberts was taking photographs from Casthorpe Hill: https://www.flickr.com/photos/154906593@N05/sets/72157700899203215/