Wilmslow 1/2 Marathon

Posted by Martin Stocker on 19 October 2018


Over 30 Years of History

The Wilmslow Half Marathon was established in 1984, at the height of the marathon boom, by Dr Ken MacKay and Neil Pringle, who were both members of the Rugby Club Squash section. Ken says the main objectives at the time were to raise money for the Rugby Club and, as a Doctor, he was keen to encourage people in the local area to keep fit. Ken and Neil led the organisation through the Rugby Club for the first four years. 

Sid Bailey of Dee Striders has run in every race and recalls “The first year the medal looked more like a bottle top than a medal but I still have it, along with all the rest.

In 1989, the original organising team decided they didn’t want to do it anymore and Bruce Philips, a member from Handforth Athletics Club, took it on for a year. That year was a tough one for Bruce, as he had little support from the Handforth Club and the race was in jeopardy of folding. For the following year it was taken over by Maurice Minns and Les Raynor and supported by Malcolm Fowler, Paul Sanders, Tony Hulme and Arabella Woodrow all members of Wilmslow Running Club. From that point on, it was a shared effort amongst the Running Club, the Rugby Club and the Hockey Club, who were later reinforced by other sections of Wilmslow Phoenix Club.

For the first five years, the race started at the Rugby Club and headed out towards Morley, then then Bird in Hand at Mobberley, past the Frozen Mop, the David Lewis Centre and over to Nether Alderley, down London Road in Alderley Edge, past the Kings Arms roundabout and back to the Rugby Club. 

In 1990, the last 3 miles changed and the race finished in Racecourse road and then following a couple of further changes in the early 2000’s we settled with the course we’ve known for some fifteen years.

Running Bear has been a sponsor since 1990, supporting a variety of major sponsors over the years: Adidas and Mars, Co-op, Asics and Waters Corporation.

In the early years there were about 1100 entrants, growing to a self-imposed maximum of 5200 and a waiting list. Over the last couple of years, filling entries places has been more challenging with the increase in Half Marathons and the popularity of other professional races. 

The Race Today

The profile of the race has seen changes with the number of Club runners decreasing and more fun runners joining. Undoubtedly nowadays the pipeline for new runners is coming from Park Runs.

The race was turned into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) four years ago, with a committee of charity trustees appointed in addition to the organising committee, led by Maurice. 

Our set up and our purpose is very different to professional races. As a charity, our beneficiaries are local sporting clubs, in particular WRUFC, WRC and Wilmslow Phoenix, and also the Scouts and Guides. Each year, we retain a contingency fund for future years and all of our surplus cash goes towards the local sporting community and other local deserving groups. We’ve also had a Charity partner each year, with the Christie being our most recent. 

Over the past 10 years the Half Marathon has donated in excess of £600,000 to local sports clubs, Scouts and Guides groups and other local organisations. 

Looking to Our Future

The race charity committee and organising team feel passionately about preserving this Club organised event for the benefit of our local community. We’re aware that the event needs to move on and be relevant in order to be attract more runners in the North West.

In the charity committee we have Keith Winterbourne, Nicky Mowat and Tony Kersh and in the Race Management Team we have Nick Bishop, Steve Kinsella, Steve Heaney, John Irwin, Malcolm Fowler, Peter Bream and myself. We’re supported by Paul Sanders, Simon Muckle, Simon Fenton, Richard Harrison, Catherine Machin and many more much appreciated volunteers. If you’d like to join us, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

In 2019 we will be: 

  • taking our first steps towards a Running Festival, with the addition of a 10k and a Kids Fun Run
  • building on the Corporate Challenge launched in 2018 
  • introducing a new team challenge and marketing it to North West Running Clubs
  • working through social media to attract more first time Half Marathoners 
  • partnering with North West Air Ambulance as our charity partners
  • Partnering with Waters and Running Bear as our key sponsors
  • making significant costs savings to be more efficient

In doing these things and many more, we aim to increase participation in our event and our surplus cash, which will be donated to WRC, WRUFC, Phoenix and other the local community clubs and groups. 

We’re now live with Half Marathon entries and will launch the 10k closer to Christmas. 

We appreciate everyone’s support, especially on the big day, and hope you’ll continue to join us. In the meantime, if you use social media, please help by sharing any posts that you see with your colleagues, friends and family. If you’re a runner, now’s a good time to enter, just click here!


Finally, this is a good opportunity to recognise the many volunteers over the years who’ve dedicated so much of their time for the Half Marathon and the good it brings, in particular Maurice, who stepped down as chairman this summer. 

Many, many thanks



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