RUNNERS from far and wide gathered at Helsby on Sunday for the 31st annual Four Villages Half Marathon.

There were more than 1,600 finishers at the Essar-sponsored race, which starts and finishes in Helsby and also winds through the neighbouring villages of Mouldsworth, Manley and Dunham-on-the-Hill.

Martin Williams (Tipton Harriers) was the first to complete the 13.1-mile course, clocking a time of one hour, eight minutes and 31 seconds. The first female finisher was Gemma Connolly (St Helens Sutton AC) in 1.21:03.

Local clubs were well represented, with Chester Triathlon Club entering no fewer than 55 members.

Their leading man was Chris Prior, who continued his rich vein of form to finish third in a personal best of 1.10:29.

Clubmate Duncan Harris claimed the third over-45 spot and clocked 1.15:58 for 14th overall.

Vince van Woerkom was the third Chester Tri runner across the line in 17th spot and 1.17:03, just 38 seconds ahead of Chris Standidge in 1.17:41.

The club’s first female finisher, Julie Webb, clocked 1.30:22 to finish ninth in the women’s race and third in the LV45 category.

She was followed by Susan Fourie (1.37:04) and Katie Evans (1.44:33), with many other Chester Tri runners behind them also recording PB times.

James Docherty spearheaded West Cheshire AC’s Four Villages contingent.

He was 16th in 1.16:36, ahead of 25 other West Cheshire AC members.

Adam Parr achieved 60th position in 1.22:06, while Jeff McQueen clocked 1.24:26 for 84th position and Andrew Clague posted 1.24:52 for 89th place.

Lisa Davies was West Cheshire AC’s first female home, clocking 1.41:43 for 12th place in the over-40 age group and 565th position overall, while clubmate Ellie Robinson was 19th in her over-35 age group and 601st overall in 1.42:55.

Other leading runners from local clubs were Adair Broughton (24th in 1.17:47) from host club Helsby RC and Tattenhall Runners’ Alistair McNay (75th in 1.23:36).

For a full list of results from the big race visit the website