Essar-sponsored Chester Half Marathon milestone triggers bonus charity donation

A big winner in this year’s Chester Half Marathon was one lucky runner who crossed the line at just the right moment to receive a unique accolade.

Essar once again sponsored this year's Chester half marathon and added a special £1k charity donation

While the elite entrants competed to be first through the finish of Sunday’s Essar Chester Half Marathon, organisers were keeping a close eye further down the field to pick out a special finisher.

Over the 41 years the event has taken place, tens of thousands of runners have completed the challenging 13.1-mile distance through the streets of Chester and surrounding countryside. And this year’s event saw a very special milestone reached, with the 100,000th finisher amongst those crossing the line.

Announcing the special prize prior to the event, joint race organiser Chris Hulme said: “As organisers of the Chester Marathon, we were honoured to be given the opportunity a decade ago to take over the running of the Chester Half Marathon. Since then, tens of thousands of runners have crossed the finish line with many people returning year after year to enjoy the experience this event offers.

A special award

“When we started organising the race, we never imagined it would touch so many people. Mentioning this to our lead sponsor, Essar, we came up with the idea of awarding the 100,000th finisher with a £1,000 donation to the charity of their choice.”

Essar has been the title sponsor of the Chester Half Marathon since 2016 and recently signed a renewal agreement to take the title sponsorship through to 2027. To celebrate, Essar created this special award, for the 100,000th finisher.

That milestone was reached, as expected, in Sunday’s race, with Chris describing it as; “A nail biter” with runners’ positions in the race changing with every passing minute but added: “Through the magic of technology we found our athlete!

“We are delighted to announce that Jo Mills is that very special person and, in celebration of this, Essar as title sponsor of the event is donating £1,000 to the charity of her choice.”

Jo Mills, the 100,000th Chester Half Marathon finisher and winner of Essar’s special £1000 charity prize  


“It’s all a bit overwhelming,” said Jo. “I’m not sure right now what I will do with the £1,000 but will probably split it between two good causes.”

Whichever charities Jo chooses, they are far from the only ones to benefit from the event with a phenomenal £600,000 set to be raised for charity this year. The local community also benefitted from the day with 700 children and adults enjoying a trot around Chester Racecourse in the one-mile Family Fun Run which took place while the main event was in progress.

Deepak Maheshwari, chief executive officer of Essar Oil UK, said: “We’re delighted with the turnout for this year’s event and would like to thank Active Leisure and all of the runners, volunteers and supporters for making this such a memorable occasion.

“Thank you to the 100,000th finisher too, we look forward to making a donation to their worthy cause.”

The field of more than 4000 runners at this year’s race also included a team of more than 50 Essar colleagues, family and friends.

A few of Team Essar pictured with Chief Commercial Officer Karunakaran Hari before the start of the race.

Congratulations to all those taking part!

Entries are already open here for the 2024 Essar Chester Half Marathon