The Helsby half or Essar Four Villages half marathon to give it it's full title is a popular race that always sells out well in advance. The event, which is organised by Helsby RC has been going strong for over 30 years.
All the profits go to local cheshire charities such as the Good Shepherd in Chester and Halton Haven in Runcorn. A fantastic race and a great way to start off the new year.
The course starts at Helsby Sports Club. After the gun you will turn right on the A56 heading towards the motorway before turning left at the traffic lights towards Chester on the A56. This is the beginning of a mile long but gentle uphill section which leads you though the village of Dunham on the Hill where you leave the closed main road for the country lanes which will be open to traffic so please be careful.
After exiting Dunham runners follow the road for about a mile - you'll be pleased to know it's flat! Once the road straightens out you will take another hairpin turn but this time to the right (and no you cant take the shortcut!). Continuing along this flat road until a left turn takes you onto the B5312. After about 3/4 of a mile you'll be happy to see the Long Lane on your left, just along this road is the first of two drinks stations.
At the end of Long Lane a left turn leads you onto Barnhouse Lane and a right at the end into Nortons Lane brings you to the half way on the course. The end of Nortons Lane brings you to a short hill up past the motor museum and into Mouldsworth at the 8 mile mark where you turn left just before the main road along Manley Lane to the drinks station, just after the 9 mile marker.
As the road starts to drop you turn right the right again up Sugar Lane towards Manley where a left turn into School Lane sees another short hill. A left turn at the main road, which undulates, and just over a mile later you can look forward to the downhill run of Towers Lane. The road turns right around the golf course before a right on Primrose Avenue (the 13 mile mark) then and a left on Latham Avenue and an then an immediate left and I'm sure you'll be relieved to see the finish line so a quick sprint down the road and there you have it you've done.
Managed to do this race last year and loved it. The route climbs and then undulates before a final long descent of about a mile and a half. The views are worth the undulations though, especially if you get a day like we did - crisp, clear and sunny, so we could take in the beautiful countryside around us.
The race is on quiet country roads and takes you through four charming villages (as the names suggests) before the downhill sprint to the finish. I didn't PB but I wasn't far off as you can really get a sprint going towards the end. Would definitely do this race again, it's a shame it's been cancelled twice in the last three years!