Records were broken at this year’s Chester Half Marathon on Sunday (May 18) as the city streets were filled with runners and spectators on one of the hottest days of the year.
The race, which saw a new course record set, was a complete sell-out again this year with almost 7,000 entrants in the main event and 500 in the one-mile long family fun run around Chester Racecourse.
The Chester Half Marathon, which is now in its 33rd year, saw runners of all ages and abilities compete, from those striving to achieve a personal or charity challenge, to elite athletes aiming for a new course record.
Leading the runners to the finish was last year’s winner, Kenyan born Mohammed Abu-Rezeq, who now lives in Manchester.
He shaved over two minutes off his 2013 winning time, finishing in 1hour, 5 minutes and 48 seconds.
He said: “I led the race from start to finish and found it pretty comfortable as I’m familiar with the route after winning last year.
“The weather was really warm, but the wind helped me get round in good time. This was the best time I’ve ever done in a UK race, and I’ll be back again next year to try to beat it again.”
Second across the line was Mohammed’s training partner and last year’s runner up, Tarus Elly, who finished in 1hour, 9 minutes and 55 seconds. Third was Kenilworth Club runner Chris McCarthy.
The first female across the line was Gemma Connolly from Runcorn.
She said: “I ran alone for most of the race and it was great. Although it was hot, the wind helped me to maintain my pace around the course.”
In addition to the elite runners, thousands of others took to the streets for the 13.1 mile race running for charities including Alder Hey Hospital, the Hospice of the Good Shepherd, Claire House Children's Hospice, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support. A team of runners took part to raise cash for Alder Hey Hospital, in support of Upton youngster Erin Cross, who is battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Donna Mitchell, of Mickle Trafford, ran for the official race charity Northern Lights.
She said: “This is the first half marathon I’ve ever run. I only started running in January this year when I decided to enter. Having two children myself, I wanted to raise money for a charity that supports young people. My first experience of a professionally organised race has been great and I’m really happy with my time. I’ll definitely be continuing with my running.”
The first finisher in the family fun run was Tom Sparrow, aged 11, from Buckley, who decided to run because his dad was taking part in the half marathon.
He said: “I I hope that one day, I’ll be able to follow in his footsteps and run the main race with him.
“I’m really pleased to have won, it was really fun to be a part of such a big event and I’m looking forward to wearing my medal.”
Race organiser Chris Hulse from Active Leisure Events said: “I am delighted with the smooth running of this year’s event. Despite the warm weather there was a welcome breeze. It was a great day, and the crowds have been out en masse to support our runners every step of the way.
“Everyone’s hard work over the past year has really paid off in making the event a success once again.
“Events like this don’t happen on their own so we would like to thank all our volunteers and sponsors for all their efforts in making the Chester Half Marathon so special.
“The runners who work so hard and have once again raised incredible amounts of money for charity are a real inspiration.”
Early bird entries for the 2015 Chester Half Marathon are now open for a short time at www.chesterhalfmarathon.co.uk.
They will close again on May 31, 2014 and are priced at £26 for UKA affiliated runners and £28 for non UKA affiliated runners.
Entries are also still open for the MBNA Chester Marathon which takes place on Sunday, October 5, starting and finishing at Chester Racecourse. Go to www.chestermarathon.co.uk for more information.
If you ran the Chester Half Marathon for charity, tell us your story: