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Helsby Half Marathon sees more than 1,700 runners brave the cold

Successful race helps erase the disappointment of having to cancel last year's event

Pictures from the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon on January 17

Runners braved temperatures close to freezing to take on the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon .

More than 1,700 athletes wrapped up warm and pounded the streets for 13.1 miles on Sunday (January 17).

Overnight snow had brought back memories of last year’s cancellation, but organisers Helsby Running Club worked hard to make sure the event went ahead.

Race director Laura Baynham-Hughes said it was a ‘relief’ to go ahead after a hectic morning of preparations.

She said: “It’s been great, it’s definitely going to be one of our biggest ever half marathons.

“We had the gritters out early this morning and two runners checking the course to make sure we could get the race on.

“That was the priority really, especially after the disappointment of what happened last year.

“We made sure we sent out lots of messages on social media to reassure everybody we were going ahead.”

Related: Cheshire Wildlife Trust team to tackle Helsby Half Marathon

Laura added leaving the entry window open later had been positive for getting more people involved in the race.

Icy conditions caused the half marathon to be called off 12 months ago, but there was huge support for keeping the January date.

The cold snap definitely did not deter too many runners this year with 1,722 massing at the start line outside Helsby Community Sports Club from a little more than 2,000 entrants.

Pictures from the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon on January 17

They all set out on the A56 and tackled the 13.1 miles through Dunham-on-the-Hill, Manley and Alvanley.

For the first time every roads were closed off on the route as competitors made their way round.

Heading back in to Helsby for the finish, the final straight saw runners power down Denbigh Close towards Horn’s Mill Primary School.

The men’s race was won by Michael Kallenberg from Royal Air Force Athletics and Cardiff AAC in an impressive time of 1:07:03.

Michael Kallenberg, winner of the men's Essar Four Villages Half Marathon

He said he was ‘delighted’ with the win and a new personal best.

Gemma Connolly, who runs for St Helens Sutton club, was first home in the women’s race in 1:22:45.

Gemma Connolly crosses the line to win the women's Essar Four Villages Half Marathon

Colin Thompson was the first Helsby Running Club member over the line in 1:19:31 and was greeted with huge cheers from the crowd.

Money raised from the event is split between the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Backford and Halton Haven in Runcorn.

For more information and a full list of results, visit the Helsby Running Club website.

Did you take part in the race? Did you brave the cold as a spectator? Let us know in the comments below.

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