The Shell Four Villages Half Marathon celebrated its 30th birthday (one it shares with London Marathon) on Sunday with another big field (2,000 entries) who enjoyed the scenic route around the Cheshire plain. The event started with 100 runners in 1982, now it boasts a reputation for smooth organisation, gets great ratings, and always sells out quickly.
This year's half was the first event in the Cheshire Grand Prix and included a strong contingent of local, county and national standard club athletes, as well as a healthy contingent of 'have-a-go' weekend warriors.
Edinburgh AC runner Neil Renault came home first in a quick time of 1:05:55, closely followed by Tipton's Michael Aspinall at 1:06:05 and Altrincham's Dave Norman in 1:07:34. Several athletes came into the race strong and confident and there was some talk of the course record going. As it was Carl Warren's 2002 time of 1:04:36 was safe for another year. Stoke's Michelle Ross-Cope was first woman, first F35 and 18th overall with a time of 1:14:31, followed by Sarah Harris (Long Eaton) 1:14:50 - another close battle - and Louise Gardener (Lancaster and Morecambe) with 1:16:52.
Further down the field numerous PBs were broken (including your author's) on what was a great day for running, featuring cool-ish temperatures in the low single digits, with dry and windless conditions. For those who struggled up the long drags between miles 8 and 11, there is some payback for tired legs in a big downhill to the 12 mile marker and a fast, flat run in to the finish.
Race spokesman Steve Riley told northernrunningguide.com: "It was another great race day. Thanks as ever to our regular sponsors Shell, Asics and Running Bear and also to our more recent backers Maxifuel and NORTHERN RUNNING GUIDE.
More race details and how to join the club at the Helsby Running Club website.
Race image courtesy of athletesinaction.co.uk