For 36 years now Helsby Running Club has welcomed runners to the quiet Cheshire lanes for the community-organised Essar Four Villages Half Marathon. The 2019 staging, scheduled for Sunday 20 January, is expected to draw in a field of around 2000 runners, for what organisers promise offers “big race atmosphere but small enough to still have space to run after the initial scramble across the line!”
As old as London Marathon, the event was started to raise a little money for a local charity and has grown to be a firm favourite in the winter calendar. It maintains a great balance between a club race and one welcoming of other runners and is often featured as a championship event in the Cheshire Grand Prix and the Northern Vets championships.
On what runners can expect in January, Steve Riley from Helsby RC told runABC North: “A bumpy course, rather than flat, it nevertheless sees a lot of PBs on what you wouldn’t otherwise tag a ‘PB course’ – must be the terrific race atmosphere! Or maybe it’s the rush to get back and get warm again. The glorious downhill at mile 11 always comes as a relief anyway.
“Being a January race, the weather gods often have the final say, but the event has had calm sunny days to a light snow in recent years. After a forced (health and safety!) cancellation a few years ago, the organisers now move heaven and earth and several tons of rock salt to make the race happen every year.
“And that job is made a lot easier by the decision to run the entire course on closed roads – no small feat of logistics, but a real bonus to runners concentrating on their race!”
Entries for the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon remain open and are available here.