This weekend will see the north-west host one of its most distinctive races, the Mersey Tunnel 10K. Runners can expect a bright summer backdrop to tomorrow's event, with temperatures of around 20C and a light breeze.
Having re-emerged in 2006 after a four year absence, the event has gained widespread recognition across the UK under the direction of btrLiverpool. Considering the race attracted just 693 competitors in 2002, the upturn in popularity (organisers are expecting up to 3,300 participants on Sunday) has been fairly dramatic.
Starting at Pall Mall, runners move through a gentle descent towards the River Mersey, with the tunnel's entrance marking the 2k point of the route. The gradual ascent begins at 3.5k, when runners literally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and exit into daylight on the Wirral side of the river. The second half of the course is pancake flat, passing through the Wallasey Ferry Terminal before a fitting finish at the New Brighton promenade.
Early favourites for the men's race are Liverpool Harriers' John McCole and Tarus Elly, fresh from securing top place at the Pennine Lancashire 10K. Leading ladies are likely to be Kirsty Longley of Liverpool Pembroke and Sefton, and Jane Kemshall (Scunthorpe and District AC)
Event director Alan Rothwell commented: "The response for this year's race has been incredible, numbers are up again with a total of 3,213 entries taken so far - the biggest since it returned in 2006. A brilliant race enjoyed by runners of all abilities, a chance to run the tunnel and a stunning t-shirt at the end. With the sun on their backs (hopefully not too hot) what more can you ask for in a race?"