Chester Half Result & Report

Race Date: Sunday 19th May 2024

Race Report by Katelyn McKeown

I decided to enter Chester on a whim. Chester Marathon that is, having signed up for it a whole six days after being left less than satisfied with my result at Manchester. My reasons for entering Chester were threefold; it would be flat, it would not be hot in October and it was no further away than Manchester. Turns out, having whimsically bagged a last-minute entry to Chester Half, none of these things are actually true.

So, on proximity… I entered Chester Racecourse into my maps the day or so before the half to discover that the travel time was almost double that of Manchester. Now, this won’t be news to anyone that has actually been to Chester before but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway, you pretty much have to drive via Manchester to get to Chester. Unless you go all the way around another way. But suffice to say, having to go to the place that is “just as far”, and then beyond said place equals further. So anyhoo, I kicked off my Chester Half journey by booking a hotel room for October, 45 minutes from the start line.

Up at five-ish I managed to shovel down some muesli and coffee before setting off at six am. The journey really wasn’t bad, Snake Pass, Manchester, further, arrive in a nice small city centre and park in a multi storey by the ring road. There were tonnes of runners milling around so it was easy to follow them to the race village which was at the racecourse.

Chester Half Marathon is a well-established race that was on it’s 42nd iteration in 2024 – almost as old as me! I had insider information that Run Through have taken over hosting the event, but as they tend to do with well established events, you would not have known this as none of their branding was on display. Instead, there were three headline messages to the event; the Chester half is part of a triple along with the 10K and the Marathon, the sponsor is Essar, the charity being supported was West Cheshire Foodbank.

The charity support was nicely done. There was a large donation area for food and non-perishable items, and there was a very well populated massage tent for afters where cash and online donations were taken for the foodbank. There were also announcements throughout the build up encouraging you to remember to donate. In other words, the charity push was not a token afterthought, but fully integrated into the event. The rest of the pre and post-race infrastructure was practical and sufficient; stacks of toilets all in one location (no trying to guess where best to go), seamlessly quick and easy bag drop, start and finish lines appropriately situated and marked; the basics were very much in place!

The course is an attractive, undulating route the historic walled city centre, out into some pretty villages and back in, with the last mile being the reverse of the start, but pulling up short in the town centre itself rather than going back into the racecourse. This meant, as was clear from the outset, the final mile was up hill and possibly could be considered fairly steep to someone not from Sheffield. There was a short section where runners are on both sides of the road, let’s say at 8 and 10 miles for the sake of the argument, with a loop beyond the switchback meaning it is not a true “out and back”. I have learned to love these sections over the years, enjoying seeing the speedies doing their thing on the out, and yes, thinking “well at least I’m closer to the end than them” on the back.

Katelyn checks out Chester

It was a hot day. If I had been wanting to race really hard, I would have been disappointed by the clear blue skies and steadily creeping thermometer, I was informed by a local that some of the villages visited were specifically known for being sun traps in nice weather, and I think this was born out along the way. Luckily for me, I would not have bothered entering an event this late in the year if I had been wanting to race hard in nice temperate conditions.

My race objectives on the day were to check out the surroundings and not to overheat, with the latter being the top priority! There were five water stations and I stopped at every one, drinking first then soaking the cap and vest to cool off. I took my three gels and my marmite and crackers at the planned time to keep my energy and hydration levels balanced (back on the marmite after some disastrous experiences with salt tabs). I decided to try to make my first mile my slowest and pretty much achieved this, apart from mile six was four seconds over, probably due to time spent at the water station. And I went for a negative split, which I also achieved by about three seconds. So overall, the polar opposite race strategy to the one I usually employ, which entails going out as fast as possible and try not to completely tail off, with varying success rates!

After the race, I made my way back to the racecourse and availed myself of a massage, which involved one student of each leg which was pretty fun, if somewhat intense. I skulled a can of AF lager I had with me and began the plod through town. At the Chester High Cross (1476) I treated myself to a scoop of chocolate gelato. Somewhere near Chester Cathedral (1541) I had a bag of chips. This provided me with enough fuel to locate the car park. Sadly, my debit card seemed to then be suffering with heat stroke and refused to work in the machine, so a lovely man let me off with the £8.50 parking, which means an extra donation to the West Cheshire Foodbank – winning!

The journey back was at least twice as far as the journey there. Okay, this is not strictly true, but with all the Peaks traffic generated by such a glorious day, it did take half an hour longer. Which now begs the question, how the XXXX am I going to get back from Chester Marathon?! Oh, and Andy Hinchliffe also informed me that it was blazing hot at the marathon last year… The gelato shop will still be open in October, right?

Two Striders were among 5132 finishers at the Chester Half. The men’s race was won by Marshall Smith of Ashford AC in a time of 01:07:52. Abigail Howarth of Vale Royal AC won the women’s race in a time of 01:19:17. Strider Graham Goff was 1st MV75.

Striders Results

P Name Cat Cat P Time
1697 Graham Goff MV75 1 01:58:07
2263 Katelyn McKeown FV40 67 02:01:19

Full results can be found on the niftyentries website.

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