Race Date: Sunday 21st May 2023
Race Report by Kate Waddicor
I have run Chester Marathon four times but never the half. The marathon is in October. I enjoy running in Chester so decided to enter the half. Then I realised the new date for Dronfield 10k was on the same day so had to make a decision. I chose Chester half as I have run Dronfield 10k a few times previously.
It was a 9.00 am start so I decided to travel the day before. There were several warnings the week before the race about travel arrangements as part of the M56 closed, as was the Snake Pass. It was fine, just a slightly longer journey than I am used to.
The hotel I was staying in was being used as the headquarters for the Age Group Masters race, England versus Wales, so there was a real buzz! All afternoon on Saturday there were runners arriving to collect their Masters numbers. This is when I realised why there were so many FV65 runners listed on the start line! I used it as a chance to get to know a few of them and check who will also be running as a Master for the Marathon in October (because I am!!). So many England and Wales vests! There were nearly 200 Masters athletes.
It was a sunny day so I was pleased for the early start. The hotel was just at the side of the Racecourse where the race was due to start. As the start was so close to where I was staying I did not need to use the baggage area or porter-loos (there were lots!). Not often you can get up and use the short walk to the start as a warm up about 30 minutes before a race!
It was a good route, starting at Chester Racecourse and heading through the Walls of the Historic City Centre. (I was paying attention to the Town Cryer who started the race and gave a little history of Chester). Lots of support here! We then headed to Mollington, Lea by Backford and Saughall villages. Then back the way we had started through the Garden Quarter and a finish outside the Town Hall and Cathedral. Lots of support here too and a well organised finish providing water, medals, t shirts and goody bags. Chester are very generous with their goody bags! T shirts are top quality, this year, as a few other races the colour is orange!
Although this is listed as a flat course I will let you into a secret – the first couple of miles have a couple of hills and then again a hill at the last mile. Being a Sheffield runner I admit these are nothing like running Sheffield half marathon but a hill in the final mile is not very thrilling! It’s an elevation gain of 407 ft and maximum elevation of 112 ft, so not too bad really.
There were five drink stations and they also provided High 5 aqua. At one stage about 5 householders were ready with hose pipes to spray the runners, quite refreshing and welcome.
I enjoyed the run, even with the slight elevation the route was interesting and a lot of sections well supported. It was great racing with some of the Masters athletes. I kept a steady pace throughout and finished only 1 minute slower than my Bristol half marathon time the week before. Learning from Bristol the previous week my aim was to stay steady rather than have a couple of decidedly slower miles at the finish, I knew the hill was coming and I just had to push on with it. With so many Masters athletes running I was not unhappy to be 12th (gun time) or 11th (chip time) in my age category, the middle of the group and ahead of some England and Welsh Age Group Masters!
If there was a down side it was that the hotel did not start breakfast until 8.00 am, too late for me! However, as they say, other breakfast providers are available and I nipped to M & S on the Saturday for some instant porridge and a banana! I had been spoilt at Manchester Marathon where the hotel I was staying in opened breakfast at 6.30 for runners!
Would definitely recommend this one!
4041 runners lined up for the Chester Half Marathon. The men’s race was won by Andrew Heyes of Hallamshire Harriers in a time of 01:05:52. Tracy Barlow of Thames Valley Harriers won the women’s race in a time of 01:15:19. There were four striders running. Strider Graham Goff won the MV75 category, well done Graham!
Full results can be found on the niftyentries.com website.