Electric atmosphere at 30th BTR Liverpool Half Marathon

Runners were out in force and treated to perfect weather conditions for the milestone 30th staging of the BTR Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon last weekend.

Highly regarded as one of the region’s premier road races, the event is managed and delivered by Merseyside-based independent race event organiser BTR Liverpool.

The 13.1-mile race took place on Sunday (26 March) and included the 8th BTR Liverpool Skyline 10 Mile Road Race. Together they attracted a combined total of 4,300 runners to the start line.

The event saw new female course records being set in both races.

The event kick-started a busy 2023 race calendar for BTR Liverpool, which will see three of its headline events reaching major milestones during the year. The next two anniversary events are the 20th BTR Liverpool Santa Dash and 10th BTR Tour Of Merseyside.

This year’s overall event campaign is dubbed as 30/20/10 – 30 Years, A Life On The Run, and focuses on the hat-trick of key events all spearheaded by Alan’s passion for running from an early age.

Runners and spectators gathered at the grandstand start and finish line area at Pier Head Liverpool on the city’s world-famous waterfront, under the gaze of the Liver Birds and iconic Three Graces – Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building, and Port Of Liverpool Building.

The BTR Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon was won by Ian Lawton from Prime Triathlon Coaching in a time of 1 hour 7 minutes 28 seconds.

The male half marathon course record remains intact, set by Dejene Gezimu from Liverpool Harriers & AC in 2017 with 1 hour 5 minutes and 52 seconds.

Second place was Corrin Leeming in 1 hour 7 minutes 55 seconds, with Matthew Crehan from St Helens Sutton AC third place in 1 hour 8 minutes 44 seconds.

First female finisher in the half marathon was Caroline Brenchley in 1 hour 17 minutes 54 seconds – setting a new female course record by being 1 minute 44 seconds faster.

The half marathon female course record was previously set in 2017 by Michelle Nolan from Gateshead Harriers AC in 1 hour 19 minutes 38 seconds.

Second place was Niamh Donnelly from Liverpool Harriers & AC in 1 hour 22 minutes 44 seconds, with third place Lianne Milner finishing in 1 hour 23 minutes 37 seconds.

Winner of the BTR Liverpool Skyline 10 Mile Road Race was Stephen Campbell from Liverpool Harriers & AC in 54 minutes 40 seconds – taking the honours for a second consecutive year. Last year Stephen set a new 10-mile course record with his time of 52 minutes 23 seconds, which currently stands.

Second place was Elliot Kerins from Penny Lane Striders in 56 minutes 5 seconds, third place Daniel Lowe from Shettleston Harriers in 59 minutes 19 seconds.

First female finisher in the 10 miler was Sarah Carroll from Salford Harriers in 1 hour 5 minutes and 1 second – also setting a new female course record by being 3 seconds faster.

The 10-miler female course record was previously set last year by Emily Gray from Liverpool Harriers & AC in 1 hour 5 minutes 4 seconds.

Second place Joanne Harrison from Penny Lane Striders in 1 hour 8 minutes, with Penny Lane Striders’ teammate Felicity Pawling finishing third in 1 hour 8 minutes 39 seconds.

This year international runners travelled from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Isle Of Man, Italy, Jersey, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Republic Of Ireland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United States of America.

It was a memorable day for ever present runners Stephen Symons and Jamie Doolan. They have taken part every year and completed all BTR Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon events. To recognise their loyalty and celebrate the achievement – BTR Liverpool has gifted Stephen and Jamie race entry for life in the event.

Fifty-seven-year-old Stephen runs for Quays Running Club in Manchester. Despite suffering a brain haemorrhage in November 2012, he still completed the next half marathon race in March 2013 accompanied by family. He has since fully recovered and continues to take part each year.

Stephen Symons explained, “I’ve never missed a Liverpool Half Marathon in 30 years – and now a number of team mates from Quays Running Club join me for the race. I keep coming back because of the excellent organisation by BTR Liverpool, it’s an extremely enjoyable course starting and finishing at the world-famous waterfront, you take in so many landmarks along the way, and the finish is on the banks of the River Mersey. Plus one more year and I’ll have a different T-shirt for each year for each day of the month.

“Spectator support along the route is always fantastic, it’s so encouraging and really helps. Full credit also to the marshals and finish line volunteers who all add to the race experience.”

Jamie Doolan is a 52-year-old nurse from Broadgreen. He has also completed 33 marathons – no mean feat after being told he would struggle to walk due to a problem with his legs at birth. He went on to have them straightened with splints, then aged 21 had pins inserted to strengthen his right ankle.

Jamie Doolan added, “My first big race was the London Marathon in April 1994. I caught the running bug, then I saw Liverpool Half Marathon advertised and entered. I remember it well, it was a sunny day in August 1994 and it started from the Garden Festival site. I ran in the 2000 race on my 30th Birthday so that was memorable. Over the years the field and the medals have become bigger.

“I keep coming back because it’s well organised, shows off the city, and I want to support the race. It starts and finishes in such an iconic setting, not many events can compete with The Three Graces. I never thought 30 would come around – but here’s to the next 30.”

As part of its commitment to community engagement, BTR Liverpool invited Fans Supporting Foodbanks to collect food donations at the event.

Many local running clubs were represented on the day, with the largest numbers from Alive Fitness in Crosby, Dockside Runners, Liverpool Running Club, Kirkby Milers AC, Marsh Lane Harriers in Bootle, MerseyTri, Northwich Running Club in Cheshire, and Penny Lane Striders.

BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell summed up the milestone event, “What an electric atmosphere to mark the 30th staging of this epic race. I’m sure that will continue through to next year’s event on 17 March 2024 – St Patrick’s Day. Already 100 people have signed up, and plans are now underway to make the event even more of a party in our iconic city. Including a half marathon twinning event announcement next week.

“Each and every one of the 4,300 runners have a reason why they were taking part. It’s very inspiring. We thank every runner, spectator, and volunteer who, in memorable style, helped to kick-start style this remarkable year of milestones for BTR Liverpool. They are all part of what makes BTR running events special.

“I took part in the very first 1994 Liverpool International Half Marathon, as it was then known, and met organisers Bill Sergeant and Jim Ross. It was a chance meeting and they asked me to get involved. Fast forward to the present day, the race is owned, organised, and delivered by BTR Liverpool – which stands for Born To Run. This year it felt very personal, it’s come full circle, and it was quite a momentous day for me and BTR Liverpool.

“The races will come round fast now for the rest of the year. Next up is the BTR Mersey Tunnel 10K on 16 April – a unique race in its own right, and the only time you can run through the historic Kingsway Tunnel.”

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