Kingston-Lee bags London place after breaking 2:45 at Chester

Kenilworth Runners' Stuart Hopkins and Matthew Kingston-Lee show off their medals at Chester.
Kenilworth Runners' Stuart Hopkins and Matthew Kingston-Lee show off their medals at Chester.

A first ever sub-2:45 clocking for Kenilworth Runners’ Matthew Kingston-Lee at the 2015 MBNA Chester Marathon secured the recently turned 40-year-old a place at the 2016 National Marathon Championships in London.

Kingston-Lee made his trademark steady start on the scenic, but undulating Chester course, covering the opening 5k in 19min 58sec before easing into a faster tempo, passing 10k in 38:44 and the half-way marker in 1:21:11.

At around 18 miles he passed fellow Kenilworth Runner Stuart Hopkins and was looking good for a sub-2:40 clocking.

The undulations, however, took their toll in the final ten kilometres and Kingston-Lee found himself battling the onset of severe cramp in his right calf.

Fearful he could find himself grinding to a halt at any point, his pace slowed a little in the final couple of miles.

With the finish line in sight on the home straight of Chester Racecourse and cheered on by his family, he mustered a sprint finish to cross the finish line in 2:43:41.

This bettered his previous marathon best, set at Rotterdam in 2014, by just under three minutes. It also earned him 18th position overall in a field of 2,287 finishers and third place in the V40 category.

“It’s been a long-held ambition to break 2:45 for the marathon and one day bettering the National Championships’ qualifying time,” said Kingston-Lee. “I’m delighted to have finally bettered 2:45 and look forward to hopefully breaking 2:40 at London in 2016.”

Hopkins, who for a long period of the race was the lead Kenilworth Runner, also slowed in the closing stages but was pleased, considering a less than ideal preparation, to finish just two places behind his clubmate in 2:46:27.

Courtney Thornberry was the third of four Kenilworth Runners to finish. Returning to Chester having raced there in 2014, she was a little slower in 2015, but still ran a fine race to finish 103rd female in 3:43:27.

It was tough going for Matt Griffiths who, after a strong start, suffered a right glute injury at around 11 miles. Determined to finish, he came home 794th in 3:55:50.

Spa Striders’ Clare Hinton and Andrew Graham were rewarded for an excellent summer of training with massive personal bests.

Graham took ten minutes off his previous mark, finishing 59th man in 2:57:53 and fourth in his age category, while Hinton’s three-year quest to lower her PB saw her record a time of 3:21:41 to cross the line 21st lady and sixth in her age category.

David Rigby of Preston Harriers won the marathon in 2:24:47, with Samantha Amend of Belgrave Harriers the first female in 2:49:09.

Kenilworth Runners’ Sheela Hobden ran a massive new PB of 4:35 at the Bournemouth Marathon.

Simon Corley finished 399th in 3:51, with Michael Scandrett 471st in 3:55 after both suffered in tough conditions for marathon running.

In the Bournemouth Half, Kenilworth’s Samantha Moffatt ran 1:53:34 to knock more than five minutes off her PB, while Spa Striders’ Kimberley Fryer (2:06:08) also ran a PB.