Just as was the case in 2016, runners who made their way to Cheshire for Sunday’s Essar Four Villages Half Marathon were met with very cold (plus wet and windy) conditions. Perhaps braced for the likelihood of such chilly weather, previous winners Gemma Connolly and Mohammad Abu Rezeq secured the 2017 titles, with the former three minutes quicker than her time last year.
Even with the strong prospect of a cold bite on a January morning, the race has continued to attract an impressive field, with almost 1600 runners participating on Sunday. Organised by Helsby Running Club, the scenic course saw competitors embark on a rural countryside route, passing through the Cheshire villages of Dunham on the Hill, Mouldsworth, Manley and Helsby.
Connolly, who impressed at last weekend’s Cheshire County Championships, looks to be in for a fruitful year. The St. Helens Sutton runner won in a commanding 1:19:18, with Belgrade Harriers’ Samantha Amend second (1:20:58) and Hannah Griffiths third (1:21:08).
Abu-Rezeq has continued his fine form of 2016 into the new year with another victory. The Altrincham runner, successful at the event three years ago, fought off the attention of Ben Fish to claim victory in 1:07:24, with the Blackburn Harrier second in 1:08:04. Mark Jenkin (1:08:11) and Ben Gamble (1:08:22) followed.
A recent post on Helsby Running Club’s website read: “Congratulations also to all our prize winners but most of all to every single one of you that helped make the day a success right through to our very last finishers, keeping the race sweeper company. Special mention this year to our fantastic volunteers, with the special challenge of staying warm in those conditions. There are around a couple of hundred people that make this race possible behind the scenes. Thank you!”
Result of the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon are available on our race listings page.
Image courtesy Mick Hall