52-mile BTR tour of Merseyside is underway

The highly anticipated annual BTR Tour Of Merseyside (TOM) returned last weekend when 300 runners embarked on the gruelling week-long 52-mile challenge.

The unique event sees its participants – also known as Tourists – race in six events over seven days at various locations across Merseyside, with one rest day in the middle of the week.

This is the third annual BTR Tour Of Merseyside, which is the brainchild of BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell.

The event is growing increasingly popular year on year, with competition fierce to make the final list of 300 competitors. The BTR TOM 2015 sold out in just two weeks when entries opened the week following last year’s Tour in July, resulting in a waiting list.

The six BTR Tour Of Merseyside events cover variety of race terrains including beach, road and cross country, and include both morning and evening start times.

The Tour started with the Sunday’s Southport Half Marathon (5 July), where the runners participated as guests of Vital Events. It will finish with a 12-mile Wirral Coastal run this Saturday (11 July), with the runners covering 52 miles over the course of the week.

Southport was followed by daily races in Thurstaston in Wirral on Monday (6 miles), Walton on Tuesday (10 miles), Hale on Thursday (5 miles), Knowsley on Friday (6 miles), and New Brighton on Saturday (12 miles), and a rest day took place yesterday (Wednesday).

The first BTR Tour Of Merseyside took place in July 2013 with 73 Tourists completing the inaugural event. Last year, the field more than doubled with 161 finishers.

This year, the line-up of 300 Tourists includes 29 of the original Team of 2013 who are on course to complete a Tour hat-trick.

As well as experienced runners, the field also includes club runners, charity runners, as well as a number of family units including two sets of brothers running with their parents; two brothers; two sisters; twin sisters; and a number of couples.

The camaraderie forged between the Tourists was evident last year when runner Lee Lloyd fell ill just one mile short of the 52-mile challenge and had to retire from the race. Less than two weeks later and once Lee had recovered, a group of over 100 Tourists gathered at New Brighton to run the last mile with an overwhelmed Lee, ensuring he collected that coveted medal.

BTR Liverpool is the leading independent organisation for creating, managing and delivering headline race events in Liverpool City Region. Its growing portfolio includes the Mersey Tunnel 10K, Wirral Half Marathon/10K, Port Sunlight 10K/5K, Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon, and Liverpool Santa Dash.

BTR recently won the title of Event Of The Year at the Wirral Tourism Awards 2015 for the Wirral Half Marathon/10K.

BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell commented:

“The Tour Of Merseyside has proved to be an inspiring new event, which has captured the imagination and the hearts of some of Merseyside’s most committed runners.

“The last two years have created some very poignant and special memories in the running community. The camaraderie, support and excitement between the Tourists is incredible to witness and it definitely grows in abundance throughout the week.

“The Tour is unlike anything else in the sporting calendar as it sees runners of all abilities compete with each other and most importantly, themselves, to complete a mammoth 52 miles in six races over seven days – that’s no mean feat. Come along and support the Tourists in their challenge.”

Unattached runner Anthony Taylor returns for the third year in the hope of retaining first place honours. He is joined by another hat-trick Tourist, Slava Osipovs, who took fifth place in 2013 and second place in 2014.

Cairngorm Runners’ Terence Forrest takes on his first Tour and is hoping for a podium finish. The recent BTR Mersey Tunnel 10K saw Forrest and Taylor battle it out to take second and third places, respectively.

Last year’s female winner, Liverpool Harrier Jenny Clague returns to defend her title. The rest of the field is open in the women’s category.

The BTR Tour Of Merseyside is the latest event in a year-long joint fundraising partnership between BTR Liverpool and its five official charities. The BTR Footsteps Fundraisers initiative will bring the charities together to benefit financially through BTR’s key race events over a 12-month period by encouraging participants to fundraise and support them.

The five BTR Footsteps Fundraisers official charities are Radio City’s Cash For Kids, Claire House Children’s Hospice, Everton in the Community, Jospice, and Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. More details can be found at www.everydayhero.co.uk/event/supportbtrfootsteps

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