Race name – Chester Half Marathon
Distance – 13.1 miles
Runner – Grace Gillen
Approx # Competitors – 7,000
Price – £30 non-affiliated, £28 affiliated
What you have show for it – Medal, technical t-shirt and goody bag (full of sweets, crisps and cereal bars… oh and of course the classic mars bar!)
Course Description – Largely flat
Reality of Course Description – Quite accurate, the first 6 miles is gently uphill but barely noticeable if you’ve followed a training plan and get talking to others. It’s mainly an out and back with a loop through some of the more rural villages. It’s not until you run back the road you ran out on that you realise how much of an incline you’ve done. The last mile is quite steeply uphill so conserve your energy for that.
Water and Fuel Stations – Every 3 miles until mile 10.5 when you get Lucozade Orange (which I could barely take two sips of by that point), then water again at 12 miles. More than enough
Time of year – Mid May, historically known for its changeable weather, Chester Half will either take place in the midst of a heat wave, howling with a great welsh storm, or even both at once! Bring a range of race outfits.
Why I chose this race – Having studied and lived in Chester for three years, it feels like my second home. It also sits right on the Welsh border so the race scenes include looking over the beautiful Welsh area Snowdonia. There is also plenty to do pre and post-race and has affordable prices.
Organisation – Race HQ is at Chester Racecourse which is really central, so wherever you stay you’ll be a short walk away and won’t get lost, just follow the stream of runners through town. There were more than enough toilets, block toilets and Portaloos but with 7000 runners there’s always going to be a queue. The finish line was carefully crafted to keep runners moving through the finishing chute, enticing them with post-race photography and the race goodies.
Feedback Summary – Chester was such a great race which I would really recommend to anyone considering a half marathon. It’s largely flat so great for first timers but also challenging enough (especially in that final mile!) for the more experienced runners. The atmosphere around the course was brilliant with support from the marshals, live bands and people even watching from the comfort of their front gardens and local villages, as well as the encouragement and friendly chats from fellow runners! With water stations every three miles, you’ll never be dehydrated (if anything I probably could have benefited from less water) and you’ll feel in safe hands with St Johns Ambulance first aiders all around the route. The finish line is carefully placed in the heart of Chester right next to the cathedral and doesn’t deliver anything less than a satisfying finish.
Will I be back – Absolutely!
Tips for next time – Mentally prepare for the last mile, arrive earlier to join toilet queue, resist the urge to drink at each water station.
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