Saturday 13 July 2013

Tour of Merseyside race series BTR Liverpool 2013

The race series is new to Merseyside for 2013 organised by BTR events (who did an excellent job!) It consists of 6 races in 7 days between 5 and 13.1 miles totalling 52 miles.

Tour Tshirt and chip timed number

Southport Half marathon 13.1 mile - 1hr 23min 57 seconds  5th tour runner
Thurstaton 10k                              - 38 min 29 seconds       2nd
Walton 10 mile                              - 1hr 00 min 55 seconds  3rd
Hale 5 mile                                    - 30 min 06 seconds        3rd
Stadt Moers 10k xc                       - 36 min 28 seconds        3 rd
Wirral coastal 12 mile                    - 1 hr 14 min 50 seconds  joint 1st (leader Anthony ran in with me)

Total   52 miles in 5 hours 24 min 45 seconds 2nd place overall.

Average pace 6.14 per mile OR 3.52 per km.

Race 1.
I cycled up to Southport on a warm morning and having not done much speedy training recently I wasn't sure what to expect exactly but planned to stick around 4 min per km, a pace I knew I could hold without much fuss. I obviously had a week of racing ahead of me and for a change held back on the first race rather than smashing myself up. The course was flat and on the road with a couple of sections weaving through the various parks and around the Marine lake, a few turns and loops but nothing too exciting. This probably was the hardest race of all for me, I would say just down to it being the first time in a while I had run any real distance on the road at such a pace. After the race it was great to chat to other tour runners and I had a leisurely cycle back to Warrington via I don't know where, eventually finding St Helens and finding my way back ok from there.

Race 2 Wirral Country Park

Race 2.
Monday evening led us to the Wirral country park. Thurstaton to be exact for this mysterious 'multi terrain' 10k. Basically 1km tarmac, 2km beach, 1km tarmac, 2km trail in the woods and the other tarmac and cycle track.
From the start I found myself around 7th position and the front group pulling away.. until the beach. A sandy 2km which made the going tough for those softie road runner types (wink wink) although I found it a bit more comfortable and moved up through the field a little. After sitting behind 3rd and 4th who were feeling the pace on the gradual gradient of the road I moved in front and just then caught a rare glimpse of Richard Webster out on his home turf. Some steps led up the gentle slope through the trees and I moved away from the pack now in 2nd. I must have opened up quite a gap although I didn't look back to check, we came back down to the road before taking a long cycling trail back to the start area which seemed to go on and on and on and on but I held a steady 6 min mile pace from there until the end about 1 minute behind the leader. This moved me into 3rd place overall getting closer to that 2nd spot.

Race 3 Walton on the Trans Pennine Trail

Race 3.
Walton 10 mile on the Sustrans cycle trail. This race broke down well into smaller sections we ran 2.5 mile northwards before turning back and doing 5 mile back passing the start and then turning around for 2.5 mile back to the start and finish. Again from the start i found myself in about 8th with some enthusiastic starters infront. I picked a few off by the turn around point and was in 5th on the return back towards the halfway mark. I caught 2 more runners before the final 2.5 mile section and despite picking the pace up slightly didn't catch 2nd place Andrew Dunning but stayed ahead of Gareth Howell. Surprisingly I enjoyed this having never run a 10 mile before I remained in 3rd overall but had pulled a few more seconds back.

Wednesday was a 'rest day' ie no race. I had a good bit of cycling to and from work and a steady hour running some local paths and ended up averaging 7.02 min miles which felt like walking speed at the time!

The rest day a quick local run this is Billinge Hill

Race 4.
Thursday brought us to Hale near Widness for a 5 mile race (slightly long due to a last minute issue with the finish line positioning) The Mayor was out to count us down and set us off which was nice. Another warm night and this race was looking the least attractive on paper for me but I actually didn't find it too bad. Being the shortest race of the tour probably had something to do with it. A small loop around half a mile followed by a big loop. The same enthusiastic starters infront which I reeled in quite quickly and took position in 3rd at around the 1.5 mile mark. At 3 miles we turned to a long looking country lane heading towards the village and it made the distance seem a long way however I kept my focus on Andrew ahead and came in just behind to some very enthusiastic supporters on the slightly downhill finish. Again pulling some seconds back from Gareth but still 3rd overall.

Hale village 5 mile pre start line erection

The red vest while I was 3rd overall and each day had its own race notes

Race 5.
Stadt Moer Park near Knowsley is known for its XC cross country running events I believe. It was very dry this time of year but I imagine quite exciting in the winter months! I was expecting this to be at least slightly undulating although there weren't really any hills to note the course weaved around the park for 2 5km laps. I slotted into 3rd quite quickly and took the first lap slightly quicker than the second. I opened up quite a gap on Gareth meaning going into the last race 15 hours later we would be only 4 seconds apart.

Race 6.
Saturday morning we are back to the Wirral for a coastal 12 miles out and back along the promenade with the 800m at the far end being on the beach. I was pretty much certain I was going to get 2nd overall after this race. After taking Southport half marathon on the steady side (perhaps too steady?) I had been finishing before Gareth each day. From the start Andy moved into the lead and me and Gareth sat behind for a short while before Anthony (overall winner) came from behind and followed Gareth to the half way point. I moved infront of Gareth and was actually pretty close to the 2 leaders all the way up to the beach section at the far end. That slowed the pace a little as the sand was soft 800m out and then back the same way 6 miles to the start/ finish. It was great coming back towards the other runners there was great morale between everyone and lot's of encouragements being thrown around! I was slowly pulling Andy back in and somewhere between 9 and 10 miles I got right behind him before passing him about 11 miles. I was moving well and could see I was catching Anthony quite rapidly who had allowed me to catch up and run in together. Thanks Anthony and also everyone else who ran, completing such an event is an amazing achievement.

Post race 6 Wirral Coastal run

Post race we met in the Pavilion for a video documentary of our week which was great to watch and see everyone and their reactions to the races etc. There was an incredible variety of runners from racing snakes to people out to finish the event in one piece. I was a little surprised to find myself in the top 3 considering my lack of road running or speed training, I've just been enjoying running out on the trails and in the hills the past few months. We were also treated to some generous prizes and a nice trophy along with a buffet to finish us off.

Tracey raising money for my favourite charity Rett Syndrome Research Trust UK

At each race the support and crew were fantastic. It was incredibly well organised and stress free. My legs felt pretty much the same all week. I've not really had any aches or stiffness which is good. A quick check over from Adrian at Jointsandpoints  who knows his stuff and the legs were feeling great. The series for me was even better than I imagined and everybody was super friendly and enthusiastic!

Presenting 2nd place trophy

A good haul along with some prize money!

I would totally recommend you make the effort and make the time to put this into your schedule for next year, yes there is a bit of travelling about and it's far easier to make excuses but it's incredibly rewarding and an experience different to pretty much anything I've done before! A big confidence boost for me too that I actually can run at a decent pace when I want to, it may even have inspired me to have a bash at a marathon in the 2.30's who knows! Thanks to 9bar for fueling each event for me too! Nutty was flavour of the week and went down along with a banana and plenty of water about 90 minutes before each event!

Get onto if you want to be part of the next one and if you want some help in the training leading up to it pop me a message
It's 1 year away even a beginner could make it round by then no worries!

Next week is 12 Labours of Hercules... 80 miles of fun in the Peak District with Beyond Marathon who put on some of the best events I've done! I'll either be in really good shape or knackered I guess, planning on a steady pace so should be able to enjoy it and not smash myself to bits!

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