The new Liverpool Marathon launched in style yesterday at the iconic Royal Liver Building with running legend Ron Hill reminiscing about his first marathon in the city 50 years ago, and ex-Brookside star Suzanne Collins (Nikki Shadwick) committing to taking part in the big race on October 9.
Organisers Run Liverpool, who already stage a series of 5ks, 10ks and half-marathons, expect 12,000 participants for the first marathon to be held in the city in over 20 years. They also anticipate that the Liverpool Marathon will quickly establish itself as one of the top 10 recreational running events in the UK.
Unveiling the 26-mile race route, race director Alan Rothwell explained how it had been designed specifically to take in some of the best-known sights on both sides of the Mersey. Starting in Birkenhead Park - New Brighton, Liverpool Docks, Queensway Tunnel, Princes Park and Sefton Park are just some of the locations runners will pass along. Dramatic vistas across the river between miles 6 and 9 will be a further highlight. The race finishes in the shadow of the 'Three Graces' on the city's Pier Head.
Entries have already opened for the 2011 Liverpool Marathon and in just a few weeks close to 3,000 people have signed up. 3,000 places have been reserved for local runners with a further 6,000 places available generally to local, national and international runners. 3,000 charity places make up the total allocation.
Recalling a 26.2 mile debut in 1961, marathon world record holder Ron Hill described how he had been thrilled to finish the race in front of a capacity Anfield crowd. Like all marathon runners Hill swore post-race that he would never run the distance again however he changed his mind to win marathon gold at the European Championships in Athens in 1969 and at the Commonwealth Games (Edinburgh) in 1970. Ron also placed first at the Boston Marathon in 1970.
Actress Suzanne Collins remembered a tough marathon at London 2002. Limited training and pre-race injury problems meant a hard run for the enthusiastic ex-Brookside star. Suzanne told northernrunningguide.com: "I'm looking forward to my role as an ambassador for the Liverpool Marathon and to running in the race. I've got lots of time to prepare for the big day so I'm hoping to arrive at the start line in Birkenhead Park on October 9 in good shape."
High point of the launch presentation was a short film from the Liverpool Marathon of 1927. You can see the entertaining footage on the Liverpool Marathon website - note the water station 1920s style!
Full entry details at the Liverpool Marathon website.