Let’s get the stats and result out of the way first. This was my 13th half in Chester, spanning 21 years, and I recorded a “Personal Worst”.
That said, it was where my half marathon “journey” began, so little wonder I keep coming back to this most beautiful of locations to put myself through what I consider to be an excellent, but challenging course.
What distinguishes this race from all others, is that just before the start gun fires, the competitors are welcomed to the City by The Town Crier – in full regalia, no less!
Following a gentle stride through the City Centre, not the easiest on what is primarily a cobbled surface, the route heads into the lovely Cheshire countryside. It’s easy to take for granted the number of water stations and toilets en route, but this race has them in abundance, with the former very well staffed with volunteers.
Several pubs along the route also have musicians/groups playing which really add to the atmosphere, but the highlight for me were the teenagers spraying misty water – at least, I hope it was water – as a way of helping runners keep cool.
Equally, and this is unique in all my time of racing, marshals were at pains to keep runners quiet at a spot around mile Nine, as there was a pregnant cow in a shed right next to where the runners were passing. You couldn’t make this up, and I promise you, I haven’t!
Towards the end of the course, the wonderful “Race Angels” make a welcome appearance, to help those that need it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to avail of this excellent gesture, however, it was nice to see some friendly faces among them.
Unlike most other races, the last few hundred metres are not pleasant, owing to there being a hill so bad that Hilary would have needed Sherpa Tensing to scale it, let alone running shoes, but the finish itself is on the flat, with a welcome descent as you collect your medal, t-shirt and goody bag.
Will I be back? Er, yes, but better prepared (just like every year!)