Grantham Running Club’s Matthew Kingston-Lee returned from athree month break from racing in style with victory at the Two Counties Half Marathon, which took place at East Carlton Country Park on Sunday 10th September. He was one of four members of GRC who headed to the North Northamptonshire and South Leicestershire border to take part in the Desborough and Rothwell Running Club hosted race, which incorporated round 13 of Grantham Running Club’s 2018 Grand Prix Series.
The constantly undulating course with a challenging uphill finish was made somewhat tougher on race day with a stiff blustery wind to contend with. Temperatures at least were not overly warm with the sun struggling to break through the cloud cover.
Race winner Matthew opted not to go off with the quick opening pace and went through 5K in around 18:30, nearly 30 seconds behind the leader. With the aid of a tailwind Matthew picked up the pace in the second 5K of the race, moving into the lead at 4.5 miles thanks to a 17:30 second 5K.
Any thoughts of a comfortable victory were soon dismissed with Luke Montgomery, who had sat second at 5K, passing Matthew not long after he had taken the lead. The Corby AC runner who, unbeknownst to Matthew during the race, has a 10K PB nearly 90 seconds quicker than the GRC runner, pulled around 15 seconds clear, but at the half mile long climb at around 8 miles, Matthew closed the gap and briefly retook the lead, only for Luke to repass and pull clear on the following descent.
At around 10 miles, with the gap extended once again to around 15 seconds, Matthew, who was a comfortable second, began to sense that all was not well with Luke, who began to look over his shoulder with increased regularity. Encouraged by the leaders seemingly fragile state, Matthew closed the gap and retook the lead not long after the 11 mile marker.
Luke redoubled his efforts to stay on Matthew’s coattails, urged on by the local crowd support, most of whom appeared to know the Corby runner by name. The final mile and a half featured two stiff climbs and a long uphill run to the finish and it was on the first climb where Luke cracked and was unable to stay with Matthew, who pulled clear to cross the finish line first in a new course record of 1:16:52. Luke finished second in 1:18:42, with Simon Lanckham of BRAT third in 1:20:47. The women’s race was won by Kirstie Sharman of Bedford Harriers in 1:27:27.
Speaking after the race, Matthew attributed his summer holiday to his success:
“I am very pleased with my win, my first over my favourite distance on the road. In August I ran at least ten miles every day on my three week holiday heading up to the Highlands of Scotland and back home via the Lake District and finally Yorkshire. I expected to return exhausted but have happily returned in seemingly very good form. I had actually hoped to run a bit quicker but I caught a bit of a cold a couple of days before the race and was feeling a little under the weather.”
Next home for GRC was Tony Johnson, who showed signs of returning to his excellent spring form with a finishing time of 1:32:03, which was good for fifteenth position and second in his age category. Gav Meadows was content with his 1:41:54, on a course he considered ‘brutal’, especially with the blustery wind. Chris Toon was likewise relatively pleased with his 1:56:13 in a race he considered a preparation event to the upcoming Equinox 24 Hour Race and other autumn races.