BTR Race calendar returns with 52-mile Mersey Challenge

Sixteen months since staging its last public event, independent race organiser BTR Liverpool is back with a packed calendar of real-life runs.

As Covid-19 lockdown restrictions continue to ease as part of the Government roadmap, BTR Liverpool has held its first live race event since March 2020.

The eighth BTR Tour Of Merseyside (TOM) marked the return of real-life race events and what a way to comeback – a week-long challenge of six races over seven days covering 52 miles.

As participants crossed the finish line on the final day, they were presented with the coveted 52-mile medal and the honour of being able to call themselves a Tourist.

A busy events calendar for the second half of 2021 includes the BTR Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon in September, BTR Mersey Tunnel 10K in October, and the Appreciate Group Liverpool Santa Dash in December. Entries are open now for all events.

The BTR Tour Of Merseyside endurance event saw participants complete six races of varying distances and terrain across four areas of Liverpool City Region, with the race visiting Sefton, Wirral, Liverpool, and Knowsley.

The Tourists began their week of running as guests of Fylde Coast Running for the 13.1-mile Southport Half Marathon, with races throughout the week featuring six miles beach and trail terrain at Thurstaston; and 10 miles on the Sustrans Loopline in Walton.

After a mid-week rest day, they continued with five miles along the Liverpool waterfront at Otterspool Promenade in optional fancy dress; six miles cross country at Stadt Moers in Knowsley; with a final 12 miles out-and-back from New Brighton to Hoylake and back to New Brighton, including one mile across the beach at Hoylake.

First staged in 2013, the Tour was created by BTR Liverpool Race Director Alan Rothwell and it has gone on to become a highlight in the North West running calendar.

During its inaugural year, just 73 runners completed the unique race. It is now an established sell-out race capped at 500 participants.

This year 270 Tourists completed the race due to guidelines and social distancing. Organisers BTR Liverpool also tweaked the format to calculate results on chip time rather than gun time as in previous years.

Finishers included 14 ever present Tourists who have completed all previous Tour Of Merseyside race events, including three women. They each collected their eighth prestigious TOM medal.

Knowsley Harrier Chris Pownell took first place in 4 hours 52 minutes 58 seconds. Chris was second in 2019, but this year’s win meant a hat-trick after also taking the top honours in 2017 and 2018.

Second place was Oliver Chadwick from Dockside Runners in 5 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds, with third position James Mackie from Wirral AC in 5 hours 13 minutes 28 seconds.

Carmel Edwards retained the top ranking for the female competitors in a time of 6 hours and 31 seconds. The win also made it a hat-trick for Carmel after also taking the TOM female first place honours in 2017 and 2019.

Second place was Carol Paxton in 6 hours 5 minutes 37 seconds. Carol had also previously placed second in 2018 and third in 2019. Third place was Kelly Marrin from Knowsley Harriers AC in 6 hours 21 minutes 47 seconds.

Club represented included BTR Road Runners, Dockside Runners, Kirkby Milers AC, Knowsley Harriers AC, Liverpool Running Bugs, Liverpool Running Club, Penny Lane Striders, Pensby Runners, Red Rose Runners, Run Sandymoor, St Helens Striders, Wallasey AC, and Warrington Running Club.

Hoylake-based race organisers BTR Liverpool is the leading independent organisation for creating, managing and delivering headline race events across Liverpool City Region. Its extensive portfolio also includes Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon, Liverpool Santa Dash, Mersey Tunnel 10K, and Port Sunlight 10K and 5K.

Following the return of the Tour Of Merseyside, the BTR team is now excited for the remainder of this year’s race calendar.

Next up is the BTR Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon on 12 September. This will be the 28th annual staging of the race, which starts and finishes on the iconic Liverpool Waterfront. The race also includes a 10-mile option.

On 26 September, participants have the rare chance to run underneath the River Mersey with the BTR Mersey Tunnel 10K. Starting in Liverpool and finishing in New Brighton, this is the 15th staging of the unique race.

A treat awaits Everton fans on 10 October with If You Know Your History 5K fun run. The route takes in Everton landmarks key to the club’s history while supporting official charity, Everton in the Community.

It’s off to Thurstaston on 16 October for the Off Road 8, a new beach and trail race. It was due to the staged for the first time in 2020 but was also postponed like all other BTR events.

The Wirral 10 Miler and 10K is on 31 October. A flat, fast course along the Wirral coastline, out and back from New Brighton.

Highly regarded as the city’s kick-start to Christmas, the much anticipated Appreciate Group Liverpool Santa Dash returns on 5 December. Almost 2,000 Santas still got their Santa fix last year by running virtually. This year, the city centre will once again be turned red and blue for this 5K festive fun run.

BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell commented, “The Tour Of Merseyside was the perfect way to welcome back runners to BTR events. We knew it was going to be special – but seeing their smiles, joy and overall relief to race once again was incredible. It was a week of memories, laughter, fun and real camaraderie. Many Tourists and volunteers found the overall experience very emotional after a challenging 16 months.

“Many people took to running to stay active during the pandemic and it helped get them through the many challenges of lockdowns, and for some it is the first chance to take part in real-life races. We’re now busy and excited to be planning for the rest of the year.

“Our BTR race calendar highlights include a half marathon set against the iconic Liverpool skyline; racing under the River Mersey and through the Mersey Tunnel; and dashing round the city centre dressed as Santa watched on by the Liver Birds. Come and join us for a BTR race in 2021, it’s great to be back.”

All BTR races will be organised and delivered in accordance with any Covid guidelines required at the time of events.

Find out more about BTR races by visiting

Image: Paul Hanley Photos-BTR Liverpool

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