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Helsby Running Club

Essar four villages half race details – 40th!


Next race 21 January 2024. Entries from 1 October, via Nifty.


A scenic road race through rural countryside, passing through the Cheshire villages of Dunham on the Hill, Mouldsworth, Manley, Alvanley and Helsby. Accurately measured (certificate number 21/267, certified 18 Aug 2021), with 170m of climbing.


Male 1:04:36 (Carl Warren, similar course to current), Female 1:13:08 (Marian Sutton) both 2002. These records are carried over from the current Helsby, Dunham, Mouldsworth, Manley used in recent years, ignoring minor changes around the start, Dunham, Mouldsworth and Manley. The older ‘marshes’ record is considered separate (more here).


Helsby Running Club under UKA rules.


Essar UK, Asics.


Half Marathon under UK Athletic rules, starting and finishing in Helsby, Cheshire. Minimum age 17 on race day. Runners under 18 need parental permission. UKA licence: 2024-47124. Race limit 1500.


Helsby Community Sports Centre, Callender Way, Helsby. Race start on site at the clubhouse. Postcode Helsby Sports Club, Callender Way, WA6 0FX (W3W: ///seriously.activity.hungry). Start time 10:30am. Finishes at Hornsmill Primary School (800m walk back to start).

Transport & parking

Please use the official race parking in preference to other areas of Helsby. Your co-operation is much appreciated, minimising car use and good control of parking is a condition for the race to happen, please don’t jeopardise this. Don’t test the patience of our local community and do not park near the finishing area in any circumstances. The race leaflet will have final parking arrangements, so please read it before race day!

There is no parking at the finish or in the surrounding area, co-existing with the school and our neighbours is important for the race future.

This year we are keen to promote car sharing and reduce our carbon footprint. Our Facebook race page is a great place to ask for or offer a lift. Car sharers only for very limited parking at the club house – 3 or more occupants, first come first served.


All competitors will be sent a race information leaflet, race number with timing chip. These will be posted together early in the new year. The timing chip will record individual start and finish times. The leaflet will also be available on the website nearer the time.


Eco friendly wooden medal.


No runner will be awarded more than one individual prize. Trophies and prizes will be presented to the following:

  • Men – 1st 5 finishers plus 1st U/20, 1st three O/35, 1st three O/40, 1st two O/45, 1st two O/50, 1st two O/55, 1st O/60, 1st O/65, 1st O/70, 1st O/75, 1st O/80, 1st O/85, 1st local runner.
  • Women – 1st 5 finishers plus 1st U/20, 1st three O/35, 1st three O/40, 1st two O/45, 1st two O/50, 1st two O/55, 1st O/60, 1st O/65, 1st O/70, 1st O/75, 1st local runner.
  • Teams: 1st Male team (4 to count) and 1st Female team (3 to count). Teams will be entered automatically, must comprise of First Claim members only and satisfy UKA qualification rules. Scored on cumulative position and team members must wear club vests.
  • Prize money values are divided almost equally between males and females and we’ve tried to balance rewarding performance and participation.

There will only be one prize per individual except for team prizes. In all cases the Race Director’s decisions are final. Prize money – £250 to men’s and women’s winner. £250 each for new men’s and women’s course records.

We pay prizes by bank transfer, rather than cash or cheque.

How we calculate age category results

There are different ways of calculating results for age categories, we use the ‘age band or over’ principle. This means that a prize goes to the fastest runner of a particular age band or over. It rewards the older athletes who have performed better than people in age categories below them. So if a runner from an age category above beats younger runners, they are eligible for the younger prize. This is a good thing, it rewards speed.

An example (bear with me!):

  • Jane Smith (age 56) takes the W50 prize even though she’s W55 – she was the fastest female age 50, or over.
  • This leaves Emma Jones (age 62) eligible for the W55 prize, even though she’s over 60 and slower than Jane Smith.
  • This principle cascades down the categories. So Liz Brown (age 60) takes the W60 prize, even though she was beaten by Emma Jones (62). Emma vacates the W60 prize, leaving it free for Liz!

So that’s all clear then. Most calculations are more straightforward, it only gets more involved if one or more runners are faster than their younger counterparts. Runners are eligible for a single category prize only – a fast 51 year old male could win the v40 prize, but would not also be eligible for the v45 or v50 prizes. Hope that makes sense!

Age category records 

You can check the current age category records here.

Official pacers

We are offering a small number of pace runners. These are the expected groups: 01:30 (6:52 per mile), 01:45 (8.01 ), 02:00 (9:09), 02:15 (10:18), 02:30 (11:27). These are on a ‘best efforts’ basis – PBs are not guaranteed!

Unofficial pacers and helpers

We do not welcome unofficial pacers, especially from anyone eligible for a category prize. Guide runners are an exception, for example we welcome blind and partially sighted entrants with experienced guide runners. Anyone on the course should be a paid entrant and we reserve the right to wipe any suspicious behaviour from the results.

Entry fees

UKA club member: £27, non UKA club member: £29. To claim your UKA discount you must be an up to date club member, entries are cross referenced with the UKA database at the time of entry. Check with your club membership secretary for any queries. Problems are often down to variations in name used, eg Ben vs Benjamin Smith. The race was started to raise money for local charities and good causes and this remains the case today.

Check your eligibility here:

£1 supplement if you also want to enter the Northern Masters (see below).

Race cancellation

There is no return of entry fees on cancellation — this is a race in January and carries a risk of poor weather. If you are genuinely worried about the risk of cancellation, consider an alternative later in the year. We’d be delighted to have you and our position in the calendar is one of the reasons people come to us. A January fixture was overwhelmingly supported in a recent runner poll.

We will do our very best to avoid cancelling the event and we now run on closed roads, for your safety. Please read the refund policy on the Nifty entry website. We will be guided by our governing body and other official guidance should the worst happen with Covid or other unusual circumstances. We are a club organised event, not a commercial organisation.

Deferrals and transfers

We don’t offer any kind of deferral in the case of injury, double booking, illness or change of heart. We don’t have the resources sorry. Only larger commercial races tend to offer this. Instead we offer a generous cancellation period with partial refund until a late date. Transfers are permitted until close to the deadline without fee – any payment is between the person donating and the runner receiving the place. Transfer of the race number/chip must be handled between the two runners if transfers are made after race packs have been posted.

Running tops

Helsby Half running tops are available. These are a great souvenir of the race and should be ordered at the same time of entry, or added later (before the order deadline). There may be some available on the day from the club tent, but you should order in advance to be sure of getting your choice of size. We normally run a T-shirt competition with the local primary schools on our patch and along the race route, the results so far have been great!


Minimum age 17 years on race day. By entering you agree to abide by all relevant UKA rules. Please note runners not past the 10 mile marker by 1:30 pm will not be given a time and marshals cannot be guaranteed to be on the course.


Online only, via our race partners Nifty Entries from 1 October. Click here to enter.

Northern Masters

The Essar 4VHM is part of the Northern Masters Half Marathon Championships. You must be a member of the Northern Masters AC and be UKA Affiliated to qualify for a prize and pay an extra £1 when you enter.


We need a valid email address with your entry — we need this to contact you with any changes or late information. We will not pass this on without your permission. Be careful entering your email address: if you make a mistake, you won’t hear from us.

Closing date

When full.

Entry confirmation

All entries will appear on the Start List and you should receive an email, please check your spam folders if you don’t see this. Your race number will be shown here, and will be confirmed when you receive your race pack. The start list is here.

Final race details

Final race details and running number with timing chip will be posted in early January. We aim to provide as much detail as we can online as part of our green efforts and no longer provide a printed race booklet. Entries after 9 Jan are collect on the day.


Results will be available on the Nifty Entries website on the day and linked on our own results page. Rapid results are also available by SMS text — make sure you give us your mobile on the entry form. We will not pass this on without permission.


Headphones and personal music players are not welcome for safety reasons — please enjoy the course without! We have had collisions because of people wearing headphones. We’re not making this up. We may pull you out of the race.

Local accommodation

If you’re travelling you might find this list of local hotels useful – This link is purely for information purposes, no tie-ins, no recommendations implied. Check the dates and details carefully for suitability!


Email But please try and answer your own question — many of the queries we get are routine and answered here. You might get a quicker answer yourself.

Our other social presences
Club Facebook group
Four Villages Facebook group

Charity donations

As well as giving you a great race, we also support a number of local charities from the money raised and make donations to the groups that help us out (below). The numbers vary once we’ve take out our race costs but last year we donated over £13000 to good causes. Our key beneficiaries are Halton Haven Hospice and the Hospice of the Good Shepherd, both excellent causes.


Huge thanks to our regular headline sponsor of Essar UK and Asics, another long-term supporter. We’re also grateful to the team at Running Bear, friends of the race for many years, together with Mick Hall Photos, and Addhire for their van loan. Without their help this race either wouldn’t happen or would cost you more!

People that make this happen:
Voluntary Groups: Helsby & Frodsham Rotary, Elton Guides, Helsby Scouts, Ashton Scouts, Beacon Explorer Scouts, Dewa Explorer Scouts, Mersey Weaver Scouts, Alvanley Cricket Club, Helsby Cycling Club, Manley pre-school, Helsby Tennis club, Marie Curie Fundraising Group, Helsby WI, Halton Haven Hospice, Camp Project Wales.

Suppliers: Nifty Events, Blue Arrow, Timewise, Spark Medical, Acton Marquees Ltd, Cestrian Loos, Runner Print, Mick Hall Photography.

Supporters: Essar, Asics, Helsby Community Sports Club, Horn’s Mill School & Pre school, Helsby High School, Running Bear, Addhire, Beesley & Fildes, Horn’s Mill Pub, Brio, Active Leisure – Chester Marathon, Big Bobble Hat. Many thanks to the residents along the entire course for their patience and support.

If we’ve forgotten anyone – thank you!

Contact us by email