Some tough running conditions saw a Tipton Harriers 1-2 in the Helsby Four Villages Half Marathon this weekend. Martin Williams lead home the field in 1:08:32, with 89 seconds in hand over team-mate Ben Gamble, who improved on two 4ths and two 3rds in consecutive previous years (albeit in a slower time, giving some idea of the conditions). Christian Prior, City of Chester Triathlon, completing the podium and first from a local club, a further 28 seconds behind.
This was the 31st edition of a highly regarded opener to many people's season. The first race was established as an answer to the first London Marathon. Both events draw an incredibly loyal and friendly crowd, with the Four Villages ever popular with northwest club runners as well as attracting high quality club entrants from further afield, together with a healthy cohort of civilians.
In the women's race, local Gemma Connolly was first home in 1:21:05, improving on last year's 4th, followed by Belgrave's Louise Blizzard of Belgrave Harriers, getting closer to a PB time set 8 years ago. Completing the trio was another traveling runner, this time from the East Midlands, Nicki Nealin of Huncote Harriers.
With strong and blustery winds, there was very little prospect of the course record being under threat. Nevertheless, further down the field were numerous PBs -- including Adair Broughton first from host club Helsby RC in 24th with 1:17:49. The steady ascent from mile 7 to 10 will put extra strain on any weak legs nearing their limit.
Despite the unpredictable wind, the weather still allowed for favourable running conditions and turned out to be an improvement on some forecasts. A personal highlight was seeing clubmate Dave Feakes get a pretty respectable PB on his 50th birthday. A great race, that always gets excellent feedback.
Northernrunningguide.com would like to thank Steve Riley for providing the race report for the Helsby Four Villages Half Marathon.