Chester Half Marathon 2024 - race report

Monday, May 20, 2024

Despite it being a scorching day, I managed to keep my head cool and beat my target time, with a new PB to boot. There were a number of lessons I learnt from the London Marathon a month ago, which I put into action pre and during the race which really payed off.

The course was more hilly than I remembered from last year (perhaps that was the heat), so my pace dropped back from my plan for the initial half of the race, but I kept it near enough and so I was able to pull it back on plan with about 3km to go, and then gain another 10s ahead of my target time by the finish.


  1. Sub 1:32:43 - Fail (Garmin predicted time)
  2. Sub 1:35:51 - Pass (average predicted time average)
  3. Sub 1:38:48 - Pass (RunAlyze Predicted time)
  4. Sub 1:39:01 - Pass (Beat PB)
  5. Issue free race - Pass


🏅New PB 1:35:41

  • Overall - 364 / 5902
  • Male - 330 / 3582
  • MV40 - 47 / 458


The race started well, leaving Chester race course and heading up almost immediately into the town. A nice short route around the city center, past the cathedral and town hall, and it's mostly flat and in the shade, before the route dropped down gently to the countryside and local villages. Here the route became much more exposed to the sun, but in places there was some shade and a little breeze 👌

Just before the first water station I took my first gel of the race just in time to wash it down with some nice cool water. I had a minor stitch for a few mins, and taking my lesson from the London Marathon where, I had a stitch and kept pushing, I eased of slightly for a few mins and it soon went, leaving me to push on 👍

My pace at this point was good and I was ahead of time, by a little, but the heat was rising and the road was also heading uphill, albeit gently. My HR was around 161, just at the top of my Z4. Occasionally, a steeper undulation, or the heat meant it was going into Z1 when I had to push a little harder.

Peace ✌️

I managed to stay within +-10s of the pace time most of the race. While the first few km I was up about 20s on target, the heat and gradual inclines slowly ate that positive and I dropped back ending up around -20s by about 10km. It was getting hotter and I was concerned that my pace might just fall off a cliff. Thankfully there were Crowds dotted around the villages, and some very thoughtful people had hosepipes spraying nice cool water. Every time there was cheering, or cool water raining on down, my pace always had a slight uptick! 🙏

The middle section of the race was pretty uneventful apart from the crowds. Gentle uphills in the sun, switching sides for the shade and keeping on point with the gels and water. I kept my pace pretty steady, as I was fearful that the heat would suddenly hit me and my chances of a PB would slip through my fingers.

At around 16km I still felt good and thought that despite the heat, I was now at an attainable distance from the finish where I could start to pull back the time, helped by a few generously longer down hills and flats… with 2km to go I had managed to get to about 8-10s ahead, and managed to keep this up the final km uphill. Cresting the final hill, and rounding the final corner to the finish straight I could see the finish line and felt a sense of relief. There was only a number of seconds left for me to beat my target, so I dug deep and kept my pace up.

Final sprint to the finish line

When I crossed the finish line I knew I’d beaten my previous PB of 1:39:01 by a few mins, and my target was pretty close. My watch said I had beaten my target, but I wanted to see the official time.

Most importantly on my mind was cooling down so I just poured a water over my head and shoulders and immediately felt more alive. I quickly exited the finish area to go and meet my family and friends, and crucially a beer 🍻

A medal and a beer. Pizza en-route!

A few minutes later I got my finishing timings. I had just squeaked in ahead of my target with 10s spare. 1:35:41. A new PB. Nice!



Kit layout
  • Nike race vest
  • INOV-8 Race shorts
  • Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2
  • Darn tough socks
  • Garmin HR Pro band
  • Garmin Epix 2
  • Shockz OpenRun headphones
  • Maurten energy gels
  • Rab - Veil bum-bag
  • Primark Sun glasses


My plan was set out a few days before, a split of the Garmin predicted time and the RunAlyse time, targeting 3:35:51. Unlike the London Marathon I actually remembered to load the plan on to my watch! I’d deliberately kept my target modestly ahead of my previous PB because I didn’t want to go too fast and blow up.

Pre race, I’d managed to keep my nutrition and fuelling on plan, as the anxiety didn’t hit me until after breakfast on race day, which was a massive relief. I also had an energy drink (Sis Go) with breakfast. I took 1 gel 15 mins before the start and then approaching every water station, roughly every 4-5km. I switched out my SiS gels for Maurten which went down well.


The good

Nutrition, and pace planning were excellent. Maurten gels sat well with me, and I will be using them again for sure. Even when I didn't feel I needed a gel, I took one on schedule and I think it kept my legs in the game until the very end.

Perhaps if it had been slightly cooler I could have pushed a little more earlier, and got a better time, but I’m extremely satisfied with my time, a PB. My first PB of the year at any distance.

The race was hard, but enjoyable, and it was a beautiful day.

My focus rotated through pace targets, HR, cadence and breathing and nutrition/hydration through the whole race.

Fun fact: This is the first race I can remember where I have not taken any photos en-route

The bad

I don’t think anything really went wrong with any aspect of the race. If there was anything I would say that getting stuck in traffic with 30mins to the start wasn't ideal, but it stopped my waiting around and I had just enough time to nip to the toilets and then get to the start.

The ugly

The 2 “issues” I can think of are:

One toe has a blister at the end of it. This is the second time that’s happened so I’m gonna have to look at putting a plaster on it, at least until it’s fully healed. It’s been there since the London Marathon and hasn’t really had a chance to heal and toughen up again.

Chaffing nips. Yep it happens, but this was due to me pouring water over my head and torso. Once wet there was rubbing, although minor, they’re a little tender this morning. Something to consider for a future hot race.


It was a good chance to test out some of the lessons I learned from the London marathon a month ago, whilst they were still fresh in my head. I think a lot of the experience and knowledge really helped. While I didn’t have a proper training plan for the half, the recovery from the marathon a month ago, plus a 10km race 2 weeks prior gave me enough stimulus and time on my feet to be fairly confident in what I could achieve. Setting realistic goals, and then achieving them for this race, has really helped me mentally.

I’m now looking forward to a few weeks of training free running, just for the fun of it, before getting back on the marathon training for Chester and York in October! Maybe I’ll have a stab at that sub 20 ParkRun which keeps eluding me 🤷‍♂️

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