Grantham Running Club’s Matthew Kingston-Lee took an unexpected victory in the Thorney Five Mile Road Race, held in the small village east of Peterborough on Sunday.
And there was further success for the club at the race with Catherine Payne winning her age group category.
The out-and-back course, utilising the old A47, was flat and potentially very fast, tempered somewhat by the winds that regularly blow across the open fens. The weather on race day was sunny with temperatures in the high teens, with a moderate breeze making the going challenging in the second half of the race.
Returning from a two week summer holiday, Matthew was unsure of his form going into the race. He sat off the fast opening pace, lying in around 10th place for the opening minutes of the race.
Feeling better than he feared, he made the juncture from the second chasing pack to join a group of three who were chasing the lead runner around 10 seconds further up the road.
The group dropped a runner as they approached the halfway turning point and began to reel in the ailing lead man, passing him as they approached 5km.
Facing a headwind for the final two miles of the race, the battle for the lead between Matthew, Nene Valley Harriers’ Robert Brownlee, and Peterborough AC’s John Pike became a tactical affair, with the pace surging and then slowing as they appeared to take turns to break the tow of the following runners.
Entering the final mile, Pike slipped off the back of the group as Brownlee made a concerted bid to take victory. Matthew was able hold on to the heels of Brownlee and pull alongside as the Nene Valley Harrier tired.
Sensing his chance for victory, Matthew maintained the pace set and was able to pull clear, crossing the line first in 27min 30sec (a new personal best by 23 seconds), 10 seconds clear of second placed Brownlee, with John Pike third in 27:46.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting such a good result,” commented Matthew after his race win. “I’d not run as often as I’d liked on my holidays and felt sure the late nights, good food and plenty to drink would have left me rather unfit!
“The race though went perfectly. I raced well tactically, sheltering myself as much as possible from the wind and not surging as hard as the others when I hit the front during the race, saving myself a little more energy for the final mile which I knew would be the hardest because of the headwind.
“It’s only my third race victory and is definitely the most satisfying. Maybe I should holiday more often!”
To add to the successful morning for GRC, Catherine Payne claimed first place in the V50 age category, clocking a fine 34:40, just over a minute slower than her 2016 time at the same race, held in arguably better conditions.
Behind Catherine, Sinead McDonnell made an impressive five mile debut, clocking 41:42 to finish 36th female. She too lamented that two weeks spent on holiday may have adversely affected her fitness.
The winner of the women’s race was Philippa Taylor of Nene Valley Harriers in 31:00.
Another five mile debutant was Richard Payne. Continuing his fine run of ever improving form, Richard finished a fine 35th overall in 31:45. Robert McArdle was the fifth Grantham Running Club member to complete the race, coming home ninth in his age group, clocking 37:06.