A POPULAR Boxing Day tradition in Chester has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers of the Chester Round The Walls Race – one of the oldest races in the country – have confirmed that the event will not be taking place on December 26.

The multi-terrain race, hosted annually by West Cheshire Athletic Club, has been an almost permanent Boxing Day fixture since its inception in 1972.

Although the route changes most years due to the weather and ongoing maintenance of the City Walls, the typical route is around 6.8km – or 4.25 miles – starting and finishing on the racecourse, and including the iconic Eastgate Clock.

West Cheshire AC officials unanimously agreed this week it would be impossible to guarantee the race going ahead because of current Covid-19 guidance, and how "guidance from the Government, local authority, and England Athletics may change over the next few months".

Vice-chair Dennis Wall told The Standard: "It's a sad situation but unanimously we all agreed that it was a non-starter this year. With the uncertainty currently, it makes it impossible to put things in place.

"It has been cancelled in the past because of inclement weather – two or three times possibly, but this is the first time for reasons other than that and hopefully it's the last."

Chester Round The Walls Race Facebook page posted this afternoon (September 17): "Sadly, the race won't be going ahead this year. Hope to see you in 2021."

Meanwhile, the 2021 Helsby Four Villages Half Marathon, scheduled to take place in January, has also been cancelled.

The official statement read: "This is obviously hugely disappointing but we hope you will understand this decision in the current climate.

"Under current Covid guidelines and requirements from Athletic governing bodies we are not able to put on the 4VHM in its usual format. The social distancing requirements and need for staggered starts make putting on a half marathon race for over 1,500 runners from Helsby impossible."