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NEW look for Wirral races; pbtrainer @live.co.uk with Sophie Whiteside.

ALMOST 1,700 runners are gearing up to take part in three race events across Wirral this weekend.

This Sunday (September 10) will see the award-winning BTR Wirral Half Marathon and 10K return for a fifth consecutive year, while runners keen to take on more of a challenge will be competing in the third annual 26-mile Whistle Stop Tour Of Wirral.

The Whistle Stop is a series of three races staged over three days (Friday to Sunday, September 8 to 10) which will take runners across various distances and terrain in three different Wirral locations.

The BTR Wirral Half Marathon and 10K was named as Event of the Year 2015 at the Wirral Tourism Awards - and this year it returns with a slight change.

Due to extensive ongoing works near the Four Bridges in Birkenhead, this year's marathon and 10K will have a combined start and finish area in New Brighton. The race starts at 9.30am on Sunday.

The works mean a change to the first three miles of the half marathon and 10K race routes. After setting off from Coastal Drive at New Brighton, the runners will head out along the promenade to Seacombe Ferry, before heading back to New Brighton.

They will follow the course as in previous years by passing Fort Perch Rock, and heading along Ian Fraser Walk to the clown roundabout. The 10K runners will then return to Coastal Drive to finish, while the half marathon runners will continue towards the Leasowe Lighthouse before also returning to Coastal Drive.

The Whistle Stop Tour Of Wirral officially starts at 7pm on Friday at Arrowe Park with a five-mile off-road race.

This is followed the next morning at 10am with eight challenging multi-terrain miles at Thurstaston Country Park, Thurstaston beach and the Wirral Way.

The third race in the series is the Wirral Half Marathon on the Sunday morning, when the Wirral Tourists join the main field of runners.

This year's Whistle Stop event will be hotly contested with last year's top three male and female finishers returning to again take on the challenge - Mark Dunham, Terry Forrest, Alan Kennedy, Carmel Triggs, Fiona Cook and Jen Adams.

Last year's first place 10K male and female finishers are also returning to defend their titles. Dejene Gezimu from Liverpool Harriers AC is hoping to achieve a consecutive hat-trick.

Kirsty Longley from Liverpool Pembroke Sefton Harriers - who last year set a new female course record in 35:32 - has already won the BTR Wirral 10K three times, having taken the honours in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Last year, Kirsty knocked 46 seconds off her winning time from her previous fastest first place finish in 2015.

Whilst many with be in action closer to home, the region's club runners kick off the road relay season at Blackpool with the North West Championships, which incorporate the Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside Championships.

The event gets under way at 10.15am with the U11 girls and boys race with the senior men concluding the action at 2.30pm.

CAPTION(S):

Mark Dunham will be returning for another Whistle test PAUL FRANCIS COOPER

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 7, 2017
Words:521
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