The sun had its hat on for the 32nd Helsby Half Marathon on Sunday as thousands of charitable runners descended on the area.
Yesterday’s mild temperatures were a welcome relief for the organisers and about 1,800 runners, after last year’s Essar-sponsored race had to be cancelled due to heavy snow and ice for the first time in its history.
Steve Riley, one of the organisers from Helsby Running Club, said: “It was terrific. It was an absolutely perfect day and the weather was just spot on from a runner’s perspective, with sunshine and a little breeze.
“It was almost like the weather gods were making up for last year.
“As a consequence, lots of people got a personal best and two runners from Helsby Running Club made the top 40, which has never happened before.”
Fundraisers and fitness fanatics from across the country donned their trainers for the gruelling 13.1 mile course which starts and finishes in Helsby and winds through the villages of Manley, Mouldsworth and Dunham on the Hill.
Louise Price, 44, from Presteigne, Wales, kicked off her 14 marathons in 2014 challenge with Sunday’s race.
The Edinburgh Marathon and Snowdonia Marathon are just a few of the races the sales administrator will tackle over the coming year in aid of Freddie Saunders, a little boy who suffered a serious spinal injury in a road accident last year.
Louise, who completed the route in 1.57:28 , said: “It went really well, it was a really good race.
“The course was pretty and wasn’t quite as hilly as I was expecting.
“I started the challenge with this one because it’s one of the earliest races in the year.
“The atmosphere yesterday was great, everyone was really friendly. I was wearing a T-shirt with all the races I’m doing this year on it and I got a lot of encouragement from people as I ran along.”
Mohammed Abu Rezeq from Altrincham and District Athletic Club scooped first place with a time of 1.05:46.
The first female finisher was Diane McVey from Wilmslow Running Club, who clocked a time of 1.19:23.
Amongst the good causes which benefit from the money raised by Helsby Running Club from entry fees are Halton Haven Hospice, the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Chester, Helsby High School, the North West Scout Federation and Helsby Community Sports Club.
Runners were greeted at the finish line with a medal, a commemorative water bottle and a gingerbread man from the race’s newest sponsor Robert’s Bakery in Northwich.
If you took part in the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon, send us a photograph and tell us a bit about your challenge.
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