Grant Lincoln: Running fast across New Zealand

This story originally featured in issue 3 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine.

While some parkrunners lament at the upgrade to a new age category, Grant Lincoln sees it as a new challenge.

The 50-year-old Aucklander realised turning 50 meant he could try to claim some new age category records.

His first as a VM50-54 was at Invercargill, where he ran a new PB on the course with an 18:34.

He’s also on a quest to achieve 100 first place finishes. At the time of writing he is on 98, with 80 of these at Barry Curtis parkrun.

Getting started

Grant’s first parkrun was at Cornwall Park on September 13, 2014.

“It was advertised as a local event in the Manukau Courier suburban newspaper. I have always been active and decided it would be a good challenge to see how quickly I could run 5km.

“I enjoyed the weekly challenge of trying to perform to my best and improve as well as meeting up with people, encouraging others and seeing them succeed. I like checking the results to see how people have done and see if I still hold my records.”

Grant in action at East End

At last count Grant holds 11 of New Zealand’s VM50-54 records, plus two remain in the VM45-49 age group (he has the double at Flaxmere and Balclutha).

There are seven events where he’s yet to attempt a crack at the age records (University of Waikato, Taupo, Anderson, Kapiti Coast, Trentham Memorial, Pegasus and Foster).

He says he’s no current plans to try to become a countryman “but that may change in the future”.

“At the moment the main reason for visiting parkruns is to get the age group records, so there are a few on my radar – Hobsonville Point, Western Springs, University of Waikato, Taupo and Blenheim.

“I would also like to return to Flaxmere, the flattest parkrun I have been to, and attempt a super quick time and rise to second on the age graded league.

“It would be good to return to Puarenga again since I haven’t been there since 2016 and it is a unique course.

Favourite events

“Gisborne is my favourite, so obviously I would like to visit Gisborne again. The favouritism I have toward Gisborne probably began even before I went there when I was told it was a fast course.

Grant in the front at Gisborne parkrun

“On my first visit I missed the turn at the railway crossing both times, hence the slow time of 19:01. Of course, I had to return and after not quite getting the times I wanted, I kept going back.

“In my opinion the course is the most beautiful one in New Zealand.

“It is almost totally flat with a few small undulations. There is a great flat, straight sprint to the finish line of about 400 metres.

“The course is predominantly concrete except a section of boardwalk in the final kilometre. I don’t usually notice a lot of the scenery while I run, but at Gisborne it is absolutely unavoidable.

“I really enjoy the beauty going down and back up the riverside (especially when the tide is in) and then along the ocean side. The people are very friendly and welcoming.

“I have been so often it is like a second home parkrun. There is also the added bonus of delicious fish and chips and takeaways from London Street Fish Shop.”

Grant’s goals

While some parkrunners’ tourism-related goals are achieved simply by finishing, Grant’s two both require speed.

His main goals are to achieve 100 first finishes, which is surely only a matter of time (though a lot depends on who else shows up on any given parkrunday).

He also wants to improve on his personal best time, which is 17:51 (achieved at Barry Curtis).

Grant at Queenstown parkrun

Outside of his own performances he also wants to help and encourage others, especially junior parkrunners, to enjoy parkrun and reach their potential.

“I am always very competitive. Back in 2016 I saw that I had a chance of being first to 50 first finishes.

“Gooya Mozdbar just beat me to that mark and Erika Whiteley, a junior from Barry Curtis, was also challenging me to be first to 50.

“I then started looking toward being first to achieve 100 first finishes which was looking promising until mid 2018 when I found it almost impossible to finish first at Barry Curtis due to increased competition.

“Since then most of my firsts have been away from Barry Curtis, so it has been very pleasing to get two at Barry Curtis so far this year. It is only recently that Hannah Oldroyd has appeared on the New Zealand list of first finishes.”

Relaxed running

So what’s Grant’s secret to his fast parkruns, aside from a natural ability?

“Most of my running during the week is done at an easy, relaxed pace and I save my big efforts for parkrun.

“Since taking my training runs much easier, I have found I get out more often, enjoy running more and am more relaxed on Saturdays.

“I have also become more determined and focused as I run at parkrun and the confidence I have gained from improved performances has given me greater belief in my ability to run quicker consistently.

“Running is definitely a mental exercise as well as physical.”

When he’s not chasing age group records Grant can be found at Barry Curtis. He checks the parkrun results and announces milestones for local runners, as well as produces certificates for the juniors who achieve milestones.

3 replies on “Grant Lincoln: Running fast across New Zealand”

Well done Grant on reaching that 100 first finishes goal yesterday (26th June). Most parkrunners will never even see one, so it’s a phenomenal achievement. Many, many congratulations.

Congratulations Grant on reaching your 100 1st finishes goal. Most parkrunners will never see even one, so 100 is mind boggling! First time I met you was at Flaxmere, I wondered why you were paying so much attention to the course description. By the end of the morning I understood! Well done, an amazing achievement!

well done Grant, i just want one 1st finish at around 26-28mins it probably wont happen , though my best is a 2nd only 17sec by a runner who beat her PB on the day by a minute, lol

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