STEPH TWELL found the challenge of hitting top gear amid a pandemic had been a step too far after she limped out of the London Marathon.

The Scottish record holder, 31, battled the extreme elements to reach the half-way mark yesterday as the elite-only race was held on a closed-off circuit in St. James’s Park. But she dropped off her group shortly after and pulled out of the race after 17 miles as Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei won the race for the second year in a row in 2:18:58.

Twell said: “My body wasn’t 100 per cent right. I have been managing my plantar fasciitis and the conditions didn’t help my body run to its maximum. I tried my best to get in the best shape possible as I wanted to see what I could do off the shape I’m in, but it wasn’t the right race for me.

“I felt pretty good until half way, but then my body started to seize up a little bit. I was working hard and the conditions were really hard, and it’s been tough to get here.

“It’s hard to describe the nature of the injury because it allows me to run but it can hold me back, so it’s something I’ve got to manage and learn about. It’s a bit difficult. Right now I feel a bit sore.”

Kosgei comfortable won her duel with fellow Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, breaking for home with seven miles to go leaving Chepngetich, who had looked the stronger in the mid-stages of the race, far behind. The pair were a minute ahead of their nearest challenger at the halfway mark, and looked on course to trouble the women’s-only world record of two hours 17 minutes and one second. But the driving rain put paid to the world record holder’s hopes of a course best and Kosgei eventually crossed the line almost five minutes outside her world record set in Chicago last year.

Chepngetich eventually lost second place to fast-finishing American Sarah Hall, who came in more than two minutes behind the winner. Natasha Cockram was left to claim the British title in 13th, but she finished outside the Olympic qualifying mark in 2:33.19.

“I just tried my best,” Kosgei said. “The weather affected us. There was some wind and rain all the way, which made our muscles colder. No one could warm up so it was difficult to even finish.

“We have not prepared well due to the pandemic. I will be prepared for good results next year.”

Twell will now regroup for a planned half-marathon outing in December before preparing for twin bids to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in both the 10,000 metres and marathon. But the restrictions of recent months, the European Championship medallist underlined, had extracted a physical toll.

She said: “I was ready to go for London in April at a high peak. I had to try and maintain but it meant my build-up had to be cautious without the physio and gyms which are a component of being an elite athlete.

“So that takes away some of the 10 per cent you’re looking for. When I needed massage, I had to go open water swimming for example. I did circuits with my neighbours instead of the gym. But it’s not what my body is used to.”