Weather conditions proved ideal for running as almost 5,000 participants set out for the MBNA Chester Marathon today, Sunday, October 5.

Chester Town Crier David Mitchell started the 2014 race, which was voted No 1 by readers of Runner's World magazine.

It was a record-breaking year as last year’s winner, Romanian born Marius Ionescu, of Altrincham Athletics Club, finished in 2:21:24, shaving 18 seconds off his 2013 course record. He receives a cash prize of £2,000 from the organisers: £1,250 for finishing in first place, and another £750 for breaking the course record.             

He said: “I broke the course record today for the second year running and I am ecstatic. I stayed at the front of the pack from the start and eventually broke away from the other runners, maintaining my lead right to the finish line so I felt very comfortable.

"I would like to extend my thanks to the organisers for putting on another great event this year and to the spectators for cheering me on right around the course; I struggled during the last two miles, but the crowd really kept me going. I have taken part in many running events across the world and Chester is up there with the best of them."

MBNA Chester Marathon 2014: winners of the Mini Marathon Domonic Grinshaw 10 and Abigail Preston 11

Joint race organiser Andy White said: “We are thrilled to have another new course record this year, demonstrating the speed of the route here in Chester. We were keen to attract some really fast runners and we are pleased to be able to giveaway the male course record bonus to Marius again this year; he put in an incredible performance and he is a very deserved winner”.

View more photos from the 2014 Chester Marathon.

In second place was Matt Aldcock, 37, of Hinckley in Leicestershire. Matt said: “The route is exceptionally well marshalled and the whole event is incredibly well organised, which really helped me today. There are some lovely elements to the course which makes it a pleasure to run and I will definitely be back next year to try and beat my time”.

In the women’s race, Cath Stibbs who runs with Kent Athletics Club took poll position, knocking 13 minutes off her previous personal best. She said: “It was my first time in Chester today; I’d heard great things about the race and wanted to experience it for myself and I wasn’t disappointed. The organisation was faultless, the support out in the villages was greatly appreciated and the location was perfect; it’s the first time I’ve visited Chester and I’ll definitely be back here again to run this event. This is the tenth marathon I’ve run and it was by far the best – thirteen minutes off my previous PB, which I got two years ago in London, so it says it all”. 

This year’s event not only included the 26.2 mile marathon distance, but it also saw the introduction of the metric marathon; a 26.2km (16.3mile) race which organisers saw as the ideal stepping stone from a half marathon to a full marathon.

Claiming the title in the women’s metric marathon (26.2km) race was 39 year old Louise Blizzard from Warrington, who runs for the Belgrave Harriers.

She said: “It’s an honour to be the female winner of Chester’s very first metric marathon. I did the marathon three years ago here in Chester and I know how incredibly well organised Chris and Andy’s events are and today didn’t disappoint; the course was beautiful and the lead bike who was with me all the way proved to be a great support. I had a minute lead on the lady who finished in second place so my strategy was to focus on maintaining my lead until the halfway point and then push as hard as I could right through to the end. I’m 40 next year, which makes me extra happy to have won the metric marathon today; a truly fantastic event”.

Aside from the elite field, more than 4,500 marathon runners turned out to enjoy one of the North West’s biggest marathons, with bouts of glorious sunshine throughout the day. From those striving to achieve a personal challenge to those looking to complete their own fundraising challenge.

So Mei Chan, 40, of London completed her 100 marathon in Chester, and is now an official member of the 100 Marathon Club. Her first marathon was in New York in 2009. She said: “I’ve taken part in all the big marathons across the UK and the world and Chester is up there as one of my favourites. I chose it as the location for my 100marathon because I find the setting and atmosphere completely unique, and that helped me to run a PB last year. I wanted to complete my challenge with a bang, and I’ve done just that today as I got a new PB, running the course in 4hours 32minutes”.

It was all smiles in the Mini Marathon with 300 children and families taking part in the one mile race, which starts and finishes inside Chester Racecourse. The race was won by 10 year old Dominic Grimshaw from Leighton Buzzard who felt that the Mini Marathon really captured the spirit of the main race.

He said: “I took part in the Mini Marathon today because my dad was running in the marathon and I wanted to be experience the event as well. It’s great to be part of such a big event and I’d love to be able to follow in my dad’s footsteps one day by competing in the main marathon”.

Yana Donald from Chester took part with her six year old son, Alex. She said: “This was our first time doing the Mini Marathon and I would absolutely do it again. It was nice to run with my son and share this great experience with him. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event”.

Chris Hulse, joint race organiser, added: “This year’s event was a great success. Together with our partners and volunteers, we have put a lot of hard work and planning into ensuring things ran smoothly for all the runners, and it has definitely paid off.  

“We’d like to thank all the event team, volunteers and sponsors for working so tirelessly, as they do every year to make the event a success. We would also like to say a huge thanks to our Big Let Pace Runners worked so hard in the sunshine to get our participants across the finish line in their target times. 

“The event wouldn’t be the same without the thousands of participants who have pushed themselves to the limit and raised a lot of money for charity, along with the spectators around the route who create such a unique atmosphere”.

This year’s marathon is expected to raise in excess of £500,000 for good causes. Fundraising totals will be announced later this year. The lead charity for this year’s race is Cancer Research UK.

Early bird entries for the 2015 MBNA Chester Marathon, MBNA Metric Marathon and Chester Half Marathon will open next Monday 13 October. To enter or for further information, go to www.chestermarathon.co.uk. 

Race results – MBNA Chester Marathon
Men            

1          Marius Ionescu (Altrincham & District AC)             2:20:23            
2          Matt Adcock (Hermitage Harriers)                         2:28:06
3          Thomas Beedell (Woodford Green AC)                 2:28:53

Women
1          Cath Stibbs (Kent AC)                                             2:53:25
2          Melissah Gibson                                                       2:55:07
3          Catherine Lee (Westbury Harriers)                          2:56:32


Race results – MBNA Chester Metric Marathon
Men
1           Duncan Clark (Abbey Runners)                           1:44:36
2          John Edward Morris (Denbigh Harriers RC)           1:44:53
3           Eric Ranson                                                         1:48:54

Women
1           Louise Blizzard (Belgrave Harriers)                             1:47:45
2           Es Burford                                                                1:48:48
3           Victoria Carter (Thames Valley Harriers)                     1:50:31
 

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