Shell four villages half marathon

Another fantastic running of this great run, now in its 30th year (that’s the same birthday as the London Marathon fact fans!). Growing from strength to strength from around a 100 runners in 1982, the race now boasts a reputation for smooth organisation, always gets great ratings, and always sells out quickly. The Helsby Half, as it is affectionately known, has just been voted no7 in the Runner’s World list of Britain’s favourite half marathons.

Sunday 23 January saw a 2000 entry running the scenic course around the Cheshire plain …although those struggling up the long drags between miles 8 and 11, would probably argue with that description! There is some payback for tired legs in a big downhill to the 12 mile marker and a fast, flat run in to the finish.

This year’s half was the first event in the Cheshire GP and included a strong contingent of local, county and national standard club athletes, as well as a healthy contingent of just under 50% ‘have-a-go’ weekend warriors.

Edinburgh AC runner Neil Renault came home first in a quick time of 1:05:55, closely followed by Tipton’s Michael Aspinall at 1:06:05 and Altrincham’s Dave Norman in 1:07:34. Several athletes came into the race strong and confident and there was some talk of the course record going. As it was Carl Warren’s 2002 time of 1:04:36 was safe for another year.

Stoke’s Michelle Ross-Cope came in first woman, first F35 and 18th overall with a time of 1:14:31, followed by Sarah Harris (Long Eaton) 1:14:50 – another close battle – and Louise Gardener (Lancaster and Morecambe) with 1:16:52.

Further down the field numerous PBs were broken (including your author’s) on what was a great day for running, featuring cool-ish temperatures in the low single digits, with dry and windless conditions.

The race also featured an unusual world record (world’s best to be strictly accurate). Personal trainer and ex-marine Lee Riley is chasing the world record at London for running the marathon with a 40lb rucsac. Today at Helsby he showed the form he’s in by posting a world-beating time of 1h41, knocking over 2 minutes from the previous best. Well done, more about Lee at

More on Helsby Running Club: (with results) and

New members are very welcome from amongst the army of unattached local runners that always make this a great local event!

Thanks as ever to our regular sponsors Shell, Asics and Running Bear and thanks also to our more recent backers Maxifuel and Northern Running Guide.


Results over on the Helsby Running Club main site

More pics:
Official Mick Hall photos
Runner/photographer Steve Angus
Mick Charman’s Flickr site


Capenhurst border league

An almost record turnout for Helsby in recent times! 11 men and 6 women, plus Joe, Mario and dog in support. Lovely chilly morning. Two laps of the Capenhurst 5k course – a nice little route on quiet lanes. Pretty good as road runs go. Around 5.5 miles total.

29 BROUGHTON, Adair 31:09
56 LANDUCCI, Ian 32:40
105 O’HARA, Jim 34:58
106 DAVIES, Ivan 35:01
118 ASHBROOK, Jane 35:38
139 RILEY, Steve 36:33
147 HALLIWELL, Ed 36:59
168 SHAW, Geoff 37:59
194 SCONCE, Dave 39:06
228 KIDD, Tony 40:59
238 SHAW, Carol 41:42
239 GRIFFITHS, Vanessa 41:49
253 WEBSTER, Robbie 43:07
258 KEASLEY, Jackie 43:24
263 LLOYD, Graham 43:49
288 SHAW, Janet 46:46
303 HALL, Angela 50:46

Robbie took his age category prize, Jackie 3rd and Janet 2nd in theirs respectively. Newcomer Angela also placed nicely at 4th in her cat. Nice one!

Honourable mention to Ed, who lost 10 or 20 places by stopping to help the runner who tripped alongside him right at the finish line (unless it was him that stuck a foot out, that is!). Kevin Bell also appeared but for some reason wasn’t a counter.

Full results here.

Four villages half marathon 2011

The 2011 Helsby Half is full and there’s no waiting list. This is our 30th running of this fantastic event — we’d be delighted if you could help make it special. Do you have any stories big or small from the race? Something amusing from an early race? A special meaning for you? Perhaps you’ve run the event many times and have a story to tell with your times. Please email or leave a comment below. Thanks!

Update: cancellations have been filled and the window for transfers closed 17 Jan. We need the remaining time to get the data in shape to help ensure all our runners have an enjoyable experience on the day.

Capenhurst 5k

Another great evening for running and a decent green turn-out. With a lot of talk of ‘fast course this’ before the event, the pressure was certainly on. And there were some fine results, with possibly 4 PBs on the night – not sure. Ian was certainly close to his best times, all set when he was considerably younger (and with more hair?). I got one (albeit a soft one, since it’s ages since I’ve run a 5k, and still short of the magic sub-20). The fast improving Alex shaved some more off his previous. Ed too?

Helsby results:

23 Adair Broughton M 17.36
38 Ian Landucci M45 18.21
40 Alex Fitzmaurice M 18.25
74 Edward Halliwell M 19.50
86 Steve Riley M45 20.15
97 Geoff Shaw M55 20.57
115 Vanessa Griffiths F45 22.08
163 Janet Shaw F55 25.38

Thanks to Joe for team back-up as per usual. Full results at


Ponderosa fell counter – results

Wednesday night saw one of the Clubs more popular ‘fell races’. The Ponderosa Hill Race. Direct link to results can be found here:

Helsby positions and times as below

13th     Adair Broughton           28.56
16th     Chris Baynham-Hughes 29.40
19th     Jim O’Hara                   30.35
35th     Ian Landucci                 32.35
54th     Jane Ashbrook              35.23
64th     Phil Gillard                    35.56
70th     Alec Robertson            36.35
103rd   Jackie Keasley             41.45
111th   Robbie Webster           45.21

With what was a record turnout of 118 runners to make their achievements all the more spectacular, two Helsby runners enjoyed their place on the Ponderosa Podium in 1st Place.

Well done to both Jane and Alec continuing the impressive winning streak. If I am not mistaken I think both these runners have now had two victories apiece in two races!

Joe gave some great hillside support as always, noticing how tightly the Helsby front runners were packing at the top of the first climb. It looks like next season will have some very close battles in the fell races. So please come along and be a part of it!

When  photos become available of the Ponderosa I will post an edit on the Helsby blog. Comments and thoughts always welcome!


Comedy evening on the fells

Green green grass of homeLast week’s Green Grass of Home race provided a hugely entertaining finish for bewildered border runners. A popular mid-week race, the Green Grass keeps everyone on their toes (with consequent aching calves) by changing the route every year. This year was a tough one.

Hardened fell runners and experienced mountain folk that we are meant that few had bothered to memorise the map beforehand, preferring the normally reliable strategy of “it’ll all work out somehow”, with a small side order of “there’s always someone to follow”, for those of us accustomed to the more sedate end of the field. Thus we set off.

There was some climbing, some more climbing, a bit of traversing (some friendly marshalling from stalwarts Joe and Mario), a bit of descending, a bit of godawful flogging through featureless gorse, bracken and tussocky grass. Even the sheep had more sense than to provide us with a trod to follow here.

The blessed relief of the end of this section saw more open ground and wishful thinking led to many runners seeing what they wanted to see and following a path leading gently over the brow and hence down to the finish. Those of a more pessimistic nature glanced up the steep and unpleasant hillside to see the telltale sign of a flash of marker tape. We accepted our fate and turned up the climb.

We climbed and climbed some more. Eventually there was a narrow singletrack path leading almost levelly up and across the hill. Away from the finish. We were almost too tired to run on level ground here. Eventually we found Joe. Again. Nice that someone from the club was enjoying himself. More climbing. More pathless featureless difficult ground. Then a descent. A steep one at that, lots of ankle snaffling vegetation to worry about, or not, depending on your descending prowess. Eventually we popped out on the stony track we’d left some 45 minutes earlier on the ascent and a fast drop to the finish. Where we found the slack group looking remarkably fresh having been back for some time. The realisation began to hit as it became clear what had happened. Most people were remarkably relaxed about the confusion, I only heard a couple of cross voices. Everyone had a nice run after all. Just some people chose to cut the race a bit shorter.

Martin took the sage decision to swiftly reclassify the race into ‘short’ and ‘long’ versions, generously giving two sets of his always-amusing prizes.

The moral of the story is to never, never underestimate the hills. They can be cruel and unforgiving. Always be prepared for the worst and follow someone who know where they are going.

Helsby long (5m/1800′):
16 Steve Riley 53.01
29 Phil Gillard 59.15
30 Alec Robertson 59.27

Helsby short (4m/1400′):
9 Adair Broughton 37.04
15 Jim O’Hara 39.56

Nice try lads 🙂

Results and pics on the wfra site.
Thanks to Al Tye for the pic of Phil and Alec above and for Martin Cortvriend for taking it all on the chin.

Three peaks yacht race (updated!)

Those silver surfers have now got their own blog at

You can also track their progress at on the Josephine.

A quick reminder of their donation pages…

Chester half marathon 2010

Full report later, but quick mention here of Adair’s superb run at the Chester today …22nd position overall in a good field and sub 80 minutes. Both results to be proud of. I also spotted Mike Hallsworth, Geoff Shaw and Alison Meakin on their way round, but had to get home before the finish. Hope you had a good run all!


What I did on my holidays

Sat 27th saw the annual Causey Pike race in the north-western fells. The family were on holiday just up the road, and we’d got back from a morning walk when I realised I could just about make the start with some one-handed driving, other-handed map reading. Last to register and carried full kit just in case. Joined the race at the back.

Steep. Not one to get yourself at the back of the single-file queues. Scrambling at the very top and really windy. Crikey I’m a rubbish descender though, lots of good positions wasted on the very steep drop off the summit ridge. Better shoes, more confidence. Blah, blah. A hard and rocky run in to the finish with a (cold!) stream crossing. Again, not one to be fretting over weak ankles. My first Lakeland race and a good one. 4.5m/1780′, 74th/169. Could do better.

Monday morning saw an early start and a quick(!) run up Skiddaw before packing up. My first 3000′ footer. Up at 6:30 and up the great hulking lump behind the cottage. Frosty on the top, with some good views out to sea and over to the Gables, Bow Fell, etc. Probably the first person on the hill that day, saw two people coming up just as I was finishing. Just over an hour to the top, and still well over 40′ back down. Too steep and rocky to let go with already battered legs. Not an endearing hill, you can see what you need to do and just need to keep chipping away up the rocky bridleway to make progress. Lots of walking! There’s a classic race up from Keswick in July, hmm I’ll have to let the painful memories die away before deciding on that one!


Dash in the Dark 2

Friday night, and another head torch run in Llandegla Forest. The Dashes in the Dark are great fun, a small but select band of nutters, numbering about 30, pitch up at the visitor centre at Llandegla for a race through the dark trees.

Fresh snow on the ground threw back a lot more light from the head torch to light the way, but left the  forest beyond darker and more impenetrable – still, no monsters in Llandegla… or so I’ve been told… Zig-zagging up the long winding track from the visitor centre saw me watching a large group of runners disappearing off into the gloom ahead, whilst those behind dwindled to become just an occassional flash of light in the trees. Consequently I spent most of the rest of the race in a bubble of my own, with no one in sight ahead or astern. This suited me fine as it took any pressure off me to ‘race’ and I could just settle down and enjoy running through fresh snow  in the silence and dark with the odd glimpse of a crescent moon high overhead. Running doesn’t get any better than this in my book.

40 minutes later the finish hoved into view with the prospect of hot chocolate with marshmellows and all the trimmings back in Llandegla centre. Don’t know whether Ben will manage to fit a third race in this winter – but if he does, I intend to be back.

Andy S.