HEAVY snow has forced organisers to cancel the Helsby Half Marathon after fears for runners' safety.
Today, Saturday, January 19, race organisers were forced to cancel the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon just 24 hours before the race was due to start.
At 11am tomorrow 2,250 runners were set to cross the starting line at Helsby Community Sports Club before pounding through the village to complete the 13.1mile challenge in the 'biggest race the village had ever seen'.
Over the past few days organisers at Helsby Running Club have been monitoring the weather and battling to clear the route from thick snow sticking on the roads and pavements.
Today, in a statement posted on their website, the club regretfully announced that they would have to cancel the popular race after fears that the bad weather would leave compacted snow in country lanes and put runners safety at risk.
"With great regret, the race is cancelled. The course has been assessed by several experienced race organisers and is not safe to run," reads the statement.
"The police would not pass the route on their inspection tomorrow so we wanted to give people as much notice as we could. There are long stretches of compacted snow which will not shift in the next 24 hours.
"We've been working hard with shovels to clear the club area, but the real problem is out on the country lanes which are not clear. We really enjoy putting on the race and putting back into the community, but it's simply not safe for our runners. "
It is not yet clear if the race, which sees hundreds of residents line the village streets to support the runners, will be rearranged for later in the year.