Nine-year-old Beth Hill, who suffers from swelling on her brain, started the race for more than 800 youngsters who took part in the one mile fun run around Chester Racecourse, just after the start of the main half marathon event.
Beth and her family, mum Helen, dad Mark and sister Lucy, aged six, were guests of honour at the half marathon as the family have been supported by Claire House Children’s Hospice, the race’s official charity.
The family were joined by Olympic medallist Rebecca Romero, from Chester, who took to an open top bus to start the main half marathon.
Beth’s dad Mark, a keen runner who took part in the half marathon, said; “In 2016, Beth was hospitalised for five months with a second episode of encephalitis, a serious condition that causes the brain to swell. She will need support for the rest of her life.
“Without the support of Claire House, she would have been in hospital double the amount of time. The team have really helped to improve Beth’s quality of life since she left hospital last July.
“We will always be so grateful to Claire House for the support they gave to our family at a time when we needed it most.”
About 6,000 runners pounded the streets of the city for the half marathon, with 100 runners raising money for Claire House Children’s Hospice.
Event manager for Claire House Children’s Hospice Mark Pearson said: “At Claire House, we love it when kids support kids. So we were delighted to be able to invite Beth and her family to start the fun run and cheer on all the kids who were taking part.
“Claire House needs to reach out to every child and family that needs us. Without the support of events like the 2017 Essar Chester Half Marathon, we simply wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do, supporting families from Chester and the surrounding areas.”