4 Villages Half Marathon – a Race of 2 halves

What better way to stay focused on winter training (and hopefully not gain too much weight at Christmas!) than to enter a half marathon in January. It seemed like a good idea in October when I entered. Fast forward to December when the weather was worsening, I started a new job so had less time to train in the daylight and then to cap it all, I sustained my first ever running injury. Calf strain was not in my half marathon training plan.

Thankfully due to some advice on rest and then strengthening the calf muscles from my physio I was back on track again just before Christmas. I managed my last long run on 3rd January 2016 in the pouring rain on a deserted Wirral Way.

I was travelling from Barmouth to the race itself as I was away with my family on an activity weekend (more on that another time). This is when I realised that I should have taken the advice which I have read on several occasions: make a list of your race day kit and take it with you. I had forgotten my Run Glide (which I would pay for later) and some of my favourite pre-race snack bars (chocolate was a good substitute).

The race itself is well known in the North West and everyone who had run it previously told me it is a great race, well organised, although a bit hilly. I am here to tell you that it is all true. I used the park and ride to get to the start of the race and I couldn’t fault it. Then at the start, the baggage drop tent was well manned with friendly people. The race starts outside the club house for Helsby running club and it was packed full of people trying to stay warm.

Have I mentioned that it started to snow as I got the coach to the start? The race had been cancelled last year due to snowy conditions so the organisers must have been very worried that it was about to happen again. When I got to the start, the race organiser was making a very relieved announcement that the race was on because it had only been a flurry.

Helsby Race photo

Crazee lady race photo – the excitement was short lived…

The first mile was up an incline but it wasn’t excessive and I felt quite comfortable. This is my official race photo taken about 1 mile in which shows my excitement that perhaps the race wasn’t as hilly as feared. Surely the organisers wouldn’t be so mean as to put all the hills at the end? The answer is yes…

The first 10 km was certainly quite flat and when I looked at my Garmin, I had run this in just under 57 minutes. I was buoyed up because I thought that I might just make it under 2 hours, my half marathon goal. I didn’t bank on the hills in the second half of the race nor the blister that started on my foot and although the last 2 miles were downhill, I came in at 2 hours 1 minute and 52 seconds.

Helsby medal

No ribbon but pretty medal in a case

I met some friendly people on the way round and the locals were very supportive considering how cold it was. It was a very scenic route with plenty to see: open rolling farmland and gorgeous detached houses and Cheshire Polo Club of all things.

The medal was rather unusual with no ribbon. The goody bag was good with a useful high vis vest instead of a T shirt. The Twix was eaten on the bus back to my car and the energy gel has been saved for another day.

I’d do this race again in a heartbeat; just remind me to pack my Run Glide!



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