GALLERY: Bumper turnout for 2011 Grunty Fen Half-Marathon

HUNDREDS of competitors braved the blustery conditions to take part in the 21st Grunty Fen Half-Marathon on Sunday.

Ely Standard Grunty Fen Half-Marathon

Competitors flocked to Witchford from as far afield as Nottingham, Ipswich and Ilford to line up for the popular event, which takes runners on a 13-mile trek across a challenging fenland course.

Winner on the day was Aaron Scott of Notts AC, who came home in a impressive time of 1hr 10mins 32secs, a pack of four followed some 90 seconds further back with John Clarke of Newham and Essex winning the battle for second.

The race this year was also home to the Cambs Road Race CAA Championships and Paul Halford of Werrington Joggers finishing in third was the recipient of this particular prize.

In the ladies race, two runners battled it out to the end with Philippa Taylor (1h 23mins 12secs) of Nene Valley Harriers eventually overcoming Alex Gounelas of Eton Manor with a mile to go, third home was Cambridge based Lucy Gossage.

Both Ely Runners and Ely Tri Club were well represented in the race, new Ely Runner Gary Wilberforce proved to be a welcome addition to the elite end of the club coming home in 10th place. Robin Webb put in an impressive first performance at this distance, a well-deserved effort. Graham Chapman came home in 1hr 32mins, with solid performances from Andrew O’Hanlon and Rob Comley.

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For the Tri Club, Leighton Barker finished in 1hr 33mins before a trio of triathletes sprinted for the line with Andrew Sole winning the battle ahead of Sam Hatch and Chris Fulford.

Race director Stephen Howard, said: “The event was enjoyable, challenging and safe. The many supporters and marshals offered great encouragement and created a positive happy atmosphere around the races. From the people we stage this event for that is high praise indeed.”

Alongside the main event the club organised a one-mile fun run round the sports fields at Witchford College. The race organised largely by the junior section of the club attracted close to 50 competitors with Fraser Crossman (Ely Runners) coming home in first in a time 6mins 52secs with William Peet in second (7mins 5secs) and the first two girls, finishing in third and fourth overall, Molly Butler (Ely Runners) in 7mins 7secs and Esme Wright (Ely Runners) in 7mins 16secs.

Ely Tri Club member Leighton Barker achieved a new personal best by nearly 10 minutes, finishing 71st in 1hr 32mins 58secs. Graham Chapman also running for Ely Runners finished 68th overall, second MV55 with a time of 1hr 32mins 53secs. Louise Barker continued her excellent season of achieving PBs finishing in 1hr 52mins 46secs. Mick Butler also running for Ely Runners, completed the course in 1hr 59mins 31secs. Schuyler Newstead completed the course in a PB of 2hrs 2mins 37secs. Sandie Jardine showed `major’ determination crossing the line in 2hrs 12mins 34s 3ecs. Michelle Chalmers stepped away from her favoured triathlons to tackle the half-marathon distance for the first time, finishing in a time of 2hrs 50mins 50secs.