Sunday’s Chester Half Marathon turned out to be the most eventful to date with a record turnout, a newly crowned course record holder and a marriage proposal all taking place. The race, celebrating its 34th year, received almost 7000 entries and saw Kenya’s Vincent Boit set a winning time of 1:02:21, the fastest recorded half marathon performance in the UK this year.
Competitors, who departed from Chester Racecourse and finished in the city centre outside of Chester Town Hall, were treated to ideal conditions throughout the day. In addition to the half marathon, a field of more than 600 took part in the one mile Fun Run to raise money for the race’s charity partner, the Countess of Chester Hospital’s Babygrow Appeal.
Boit set a commanding early lead and never looked likely to be challenged; his winning time shaved more than two minutes off the previous record, set 15 years ago. Altrincham & District’s Mohammed Abu-Rezeq, last year’s winner and in fine form leading up to the race, took second 1:06:38, with Ben Fish third (1:07:39).
In the women’s field, Teresiah Omosa, also from Kenya, crossed the finishing line in 1:15:37, with Hannah Oldroyd second (1:20:20) and Rachel Cave in third place (1:20:35). Clare Marsh was the mid-point competitor in 1:59:06, while the final runner came home in 3:43:11.
The race was particularly memorable for one runner, Rachel Mitchell from Kingsway in Chester, as she crossed the finish line to find her boyfriend Daniel Williams on one knee with an engagement ring. After completing the course in just over two hours, she accepted his proposal, much to the delight of thousands of spectators who had packed in to Chester city centre to see the race.
Chris Hulse, from organisers Active Leisure Events, commented: “It’s been a fantastic event, both in terms of the race itself and the amazing support the runners received from many thousands of supporters up and down the course,”
“The weather made for ideal running conditions and that was reflected in many of the finishing times, most notably Vincent who we must congratulate on beating a long-standing course record with the fastest half marathon time in the UK this year. The Chester Half Marathon puts this city on display to people from all over the country and there was a wonderful atmosphere all over the route and across the city centre.
Organisers believe that more than £750,000 will have been raised by fundraisers taking part in the event for various local and national charities. Early bird entries for the 2016 race are now open.