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Wirral hosted a weekend hat-trick of races which brought almost 1,700 runners and hundreds of spectators to the destination – including a successful Guinness World Record attempt. Organised by BTR Liverpool, the races covered the distances of 10K, half marathon and a 26-mile challenge consisting of three races completed over three days.
Runners descended on New Brighton on Sunday (9 September) to take part in the dual race of the BTR Wirral Half Marathon and BTR Wirral 10K. This was the fifth consecutive year for the race, which was named as Event Of The Year 2015 at the Wirral Tourism Awards. This year, the 10K and half marathon returned with a slight change to the route due to the extensive ongoing works near the Four Bridges in Birkenhead. The races, which have previously started in Birkenhead Park, this year had a combined start and finish area on The Dips in New Brighton.
Prior to Sunday’s dual race, almost 250 enthusiastic runners embarked on a 26-mile three-day triple race event – the third annual Whistle Stop Tour Of Wirral. The Wirral Tourists began their challenge on the Friday (8 September) with a 5-mile off-road race at Arrowe Park, followed the next morning with eight challenging multi-terrain miles covering Thurstaston Country Park, Thurstaston beach and the Wirral Way. They then joined the half marathon runners on the Sunday to complete the third race in the series.
The revised course meant a change to the first three miles of the 10K and half marathon race routes. After setting off from Coastal Drive at New Brighton, the runners headed along the promenade to Seacombe Ferry, before heading back to New Brighton. They then followed the established route passing Fort Perch Rock; along Ian Fraser Walk to the Clown Roundabout.
The 10K runners finished at Coastal Drive, while the half marathon runners continued towards the Leasowe Lighthouse before also returning to Coastal Drive. There were strong finishes all round with some very strong times recorded across the three race events, which attracted participants from Scotland, Norway and the United States of America.
Dejene Gezimu, the winner of last year’s BTR Wirral 10K, returned to achieve a hat-trick – taking the race’s top honours for the third consecutive year. The Liverpool Harriers AC runner finished in a time of 30:34 – taking 35 seconds off last year’s winning time. Dejene’s Liverpool Harriers AC club mate James McNally took second place in 33:42, followed by Edd Flynn from Deestriders RC with a time of 34:33.
Kirsty Longley from Liverpool Pembroke Sefton Harriers returned to take the first female finisher place in the BTR Wirral 10K, also for the third consecutive year with a time of 36:40. Last year, Kirsty set a new female course record with a time of 35:32, and she also took the female first place in 2013. Second place female finisher was Louisa Whittingham from Macclesfield Harriers AC in 38:42, followed by Alison Reid with a time of 42:46.
In the BTR Wirral Half Marathon, Chris Pownell from Knowsley Harriers took first place with a time of 1:15:22. Chris finished in third place last year – this time round he knocked 1 minute 45 seconds off his winning time. Second place for the males was Elliot Cox from Buckley RC in 1:17:12, followed in third place by Michael Dunne with a time of 1:17:18.
The first place female finisher in the half marathon was Jennifer Houghton from Kirkby Milers with a time of 1:30:58. Liz Turner from Penny Lane Striders took second place in 1:32:47, with last year’s second place runner Carly Jackson finishing in third place with a time of 1:32:57.
Liverpool’s Alistair Rutherford got some of the biggest cheers on the day as he reattempted his Guinness World Record attempt to become the world’s fastest half marathon runner dressed as a musical instrument – a voila was his chosen costume.
The 22-year-old from Allerton, who runs for Birchfield Harriers, originally attempted the record at BTR’s Liverpool Half Marathon in April. But the record was turned down and music student Alistair had to modify his costume. This time round he recorded a time of 1:24:29 – so has set a new record, subject to official verification.
Alistair Rutherford commented: “After having my first record attempt rejected, I instantly thought that I had to try it again – and why not just on the other side of the River Mersey.”
“I’m relieved to have re-broken the record in a time of 1 hour 24 minutes 29 seconds, breaking the previous record of 1:26:56. I’m now preparing to attempt the Marathon World Record in Birmingham next month. Thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement – I’m delighted to have broken the record at home.”
Last year’s male and female winners of the BTR Whistle Stop Tour Of Wirral both returned again took the top honours and retain their titles, with last year’s second place male and female also maintained their form.
The events are organised by Hoylake-based BTR, the leading independent organisation for creating, managing and delivering headline race events across Liverpool City Region. Its growing portfolio includes the BTR Liverpool Half Marathon; BTR Mersey Tunnel 10K; and BTR Liverpool Santa Dash.
BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell commented: “What a fantastic three days of running. Everyone gave their all across the distances and terrains, and we saw some excellent times recorded despite the challenging weather conditions. We’ve received great feedback about the revised race route for the 10K and half marathon route, and the spectators really did spur everyone on to the finish lines. Thank you to all our volunteers who helped across the weekend, including teams from Everton in the Community, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Cadets, and from our event charity Claire House Children’s Hospice.”
Next up in the BTR portfolio is the BTR Mersey Tunnel 10K on Sunday 1 October. Entries are open, visit www.btrliverpool.com for more details.
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