The hotly anticipated fourth BTR Tour Of Merseyside (TOM) got underway yesterday (Sunday, 3 July) with 350 runners set to embark on the 52-mile challenge. Such is the popularity of the seven-day event, entries sold out in just eight hours.
The Tour features six races of varying terrain in different locations across Merseyside, covering a total of 52 miles. Since BTR added the race challenge to its growing event portfolio in 2013, interest has steadily grown. During its inaugural year, a modest 73 completed the race, with numbers more than doubling to 160 the following year.
The challenge started with Southport Half Marathon, where yesterday's runners were guests of Vital Events. This is followed by today by six miles of beach and trail in Thurstaston on Monday; tomorrow it’s 10 miles on the Sustrans Loopline in Walton; new for 2016 is five miles along the Liverpool waterfront at Otterspool Promenade on the Thursday; Friday it’s six miles cross country at Stadt Moers in Knowsley; concluding with a 12-mile Wirral coastal run on Saturday.
Last year, Manchester-based Anthony Taylor took the Tour Of Merseyside first place for the third successive year. His 2015 time was 4:57:32 – smashing the five-hour barrier for the first time in the event’s three-year history and setting a TOM course record. Anthony is back to defend his title and is one of only 24 runners to take on the Tour for the fourth time, including only six females.
The ladies field is very open. The 2013 female winner Hayley Winder returns for the fourth year, while 2014 female winner Jenny Clague from Liverpool Harriers AC has unfinished business with the Tour after pulling out of the fifth race last year.
BTR race director Alan Rothwell commented: “The build-up to the Tour Of Merseyside never fails to impress and inspire me year on year – the runners have been counting down the days for over a month. Now their excitement, anticipation and nerves have peaked.
“People were already talking about entering next year before the start gun had even gone on the first 2016 race. Just like the Tourists, the BTR team is delighted that the Tour Of Merseyside 2016 is underway.”