HUNDREDS of runners will descend on Helsby this weekend, as the village’s 31st annual Four Villages Half Marathon prepares to welcome the crowds.

Nearly 2,000 people will gather at Helsby Community Sports Centre at 11am on Sunday to follow a gruelling 13.1 mile route through Helsby, Mouldsworth, Manley and Dunham-on-the-Hill.

This will be the first year the marathon has been sponsored by Essar Oil, and the first time that entry fees for the race have had to be increased, following changes to the village’s traffic control measures.

But despite the rising costs, the event is proving more popular with each passing year, and places in the marathon were filled as early as November, just weeks after the entry date opened.

And it’s also a day for community spirit, as young and old unite to play their part in the occasion.

On hand to provide extra fuel for the runners will be youngsters from the four villages’ Scout and Brownie packs who will be handing out drinks, and members of Frodsham and Helsby Rotary Club who will provide food after the event.

Carol Shaw, who has helped to organise the event as a member of Helsby Running Club, said the marathon is a ‘huge event for Helsby’.

“We’ve had a huge response from people wanting to sign up for the race this year and we’ve got runners taking part from all four of the villages, she said.

“The whole community are always really supportive and we’re expecting hundreds to line up along the route and watch us.”

Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded to the best performers on the day, through funds generated from entry fees.

The remaining money will be donated to different charities in the area.

For a full list of the road closures in Helsby on Sunday, visit news_and_events/public_notices