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Coronavirus: Oundle 20 road race one of the last events to go ahead in the Stamford and Rutland area

A runner who took part in an event at the weekend - one of the last to take place before advice not to congregate became official - said the atmosphere was different because of coronavirus.

Jim Grant, 64, represented Stamford Striders at the Oundle 20 race on Sunday alongside 600 other runners.

The retired teacher, who has lived in Stamford for four years, said: “There was a very distinct atmosphere. People weren’t doing the usual high fives that you may see during other races, and people were definitely keeping their distance from each other.

Jim Grant and Fran Carlin at the Oundle 20 on Sunday. Photo: Clare Morley
Jim Grant and Fran Carlin at the Oundle 20 on Sunday. Photo: Clare Morley

“They had got the message about that, and there was also a sense that it could be the last competitive race for the foreseeable future.

“The overriding thing with running and walking is that it’s outdoors and good for your physical and mental well-being. You're just having to put one foot in front of the other.”

Jim won his age category in the race, completing the course through Wansford and King’s Cliffe in 2hrs 37mins alongside team-mate Fran Carlin.

Fran, 41, said he was delighted to have shaved off more than 30 minutes from the time he ran it in last year.

“The organisers had briefed everyone so it was your choice whether or not to come and run,” he added.

“It was quite strange, with everyone doing a flick of the elbow instead of a handshake, which is the natural thing to do when you see people you know. I didn’t feel taking part was a risk whatsoever.”

In a statement issued on Monday, chairman of Stamford Striders Running Club Nick Wells said that being a ‘social’ running club first and foremost, suspending all adult and junior sessions was the only ‘socially responsible action’ the club committee members could take.

“We will start to run sessions again as soon as possible under UK Athletics advice but at this stage we do not know how many weeks away that is.”

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