As tens of hundreds of runners prepare to descend on Helsby this weekend for the 33rd Essar Four Villages Half Marathon, one of the organisers has hailed the race a ‘community success story’ and praised the efforts of its dedicated volunteers.
Steve Riley from Helsby Running Club – which organises the half marathon – said they are expecting about 2,000 runners to turn up, after the 2,250 places sold out within six weeks of going on sale at the start of October.
The race – also known as the Helsby Half – was cancelled for the first time in its history in 2013 but the club has made sure precautions are in place for Sunday.
Steve said: “Preparations are all going smoothly. The weather, which is always one of our concerns, is looking good but we have a Cheshire West and Chester Council gritter on standby.
“Whatever happens with the weather, we are hoping for a great day.”
Steve paid tribute to fellow club members and volunteers from community groups including the Scouts and the Rotary Club of Frodsham and Helsby who play an integral role in staging the event.
He said: “There is a general trend that a lot of races like ours have disappeared because of the burden of organising them and securing road closures and licensing, and they have been taken over by corporates.
“We are seen as a community success story.
“We manage to do the thing ourselves and we have a good track record.
“The volunteers are terrific and we could not do it without them.
“We need about 50 or 60 people to police the route and they are all volunteers who do it for nothing more than a pat on the back.
“Putting the race on is a team effort.”
Steve added that the ‘beautiful rural course’ is a big draw for runners.
“You don’t have to contend with much traffic once you get off the A56 – it’s all on country lanes so you’re not stuck with traffic lights and multiple road closures,” he said.
“It is a challenging course but do-able.”
The Essar Four Villages Half Marathon will start at 11am at Helsby Community Sports Club and finish at Horn’s Mill Primary School.
The A56 Chester Road will be fully closed from Tesco to Dunham on the Hill.
If you are taking part in this year's Essar Four Villages Half Marathon, send us a photograph and tell us a bit about your challenge.
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