24th Annual Event Attracts 5,000 Runners
Liverpool FC Legends, four new course records, and two Guinness World Records being broken all made Sunday’s Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon a huge success (2 April).
The sun was shining and made conditions perfect for 5,000 runners who took part in the 13.1-mile half marathon and the BTR 10 Mile Road Race which ran alongside the main event for the second consecutive year.
Liverpool FC Legends Ian Rush and Gary McAllister were given the honour of officially starting the race, cheering on runners as they crossed the start line.
Last year’s top placed male and female runners in the half marathon were again on form both taking first place – Dejene Gezimu from Liverpool Harriers and Michelle Nolan from Gateshead Harriers AC. Both also set new course records.
The half marathon also played host to two Guinness World Record attempts. These were both successful (subject to official verification).
With Alistair Rutherford from Allerton becoming the world’s fastest half marathon runner dressed as a musical instrument, and David Miles from Parbold becoming the world’s fastest half marathon runner dressed as a chef.
Participants from across the globe arrived in Liverpool specifically to take part in one of the city’s largest annual sporting events, visiting from countries including Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the USA, as well as those closer to home with runners from the Isle of Man and Ireland.
Both races started and finished under the gaze of the Liver Birds at Pier Head Liverpool, an iconic backdrop to showcase the city set against the Three Graces – and on a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The course featured some of Liverpool’s most famous sights including Liverpool Cathedral, Princes Park, Sefton Park, Otterspool Promenade, Albert Dock Liverpool, and Museum Of Liverpool.
Runners then returned to the city’s stunning waterfront for a grandstand finish where they were presented with their finishers’ medal, T-shirt and goody bag.
The winner of the Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon 2017 was Dejene Gezimu – taking the top honours for the second consecutive year.
Dejene also set a new course record with his winning time of 1:05:52 (gun time). Dejene runs for Liverpool Harriers and last year he narrowly missed out on breaking the record – but this year he returned and set a new record taking 1 minute 7 seconds off his winning time in 2016.
The first female home in the half marathon was Michelle Nolan from Gateshead Harriers AC with a winning time of 1:19:38 (gun time). Last year Michelle set a new record by 45 seconds. This year she returned and broke her own record by running another 43 seconds faster in 2017.
The first male home in the BTR 10 Mile Road Race was Mark Dunham from Southport Waterloo AC in 54:18 (gun time), while the first female finisher was Sarah Carroll from Salford Harriers AC in 1:07:04 (gun time). Both Mark and Sarah have also set new course records for the BTR 10 Mile Road Race.
Liverpool FC Legends Ian Rush and Gary McAllister thrilled fans as they posed for pictures and selfies, ahead of officially starting the race. The duo attended as guests of Vitality and Liverpool Football Club with mascot Mighty Red. They also cheered on runners who were fundraising for the Liverpool FC Foundation – the Club’s official charity.
Ian Rush made 660 appearances for the Reds scoring 346 goals, while Gary McAllister featured 87 times scoring nine goals – firmly establishing themselves as fans’ favourites at Anfield.
Liverpool FC Legend and Club ambassador, Ian Rush commented:
“It was a great honour to start the Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon. Seeing thousands of runners raising money for so many great causes, including the LFC Foundation – it was really inspiring. Many congratulations to Dejene Gezimu and Michelle Nolan, those were two incredible finishes.”
Liverpool FC Legend and Club ambassador, Gary McAllister added:
“It was fantastic to be on the start line cheering the runners on. The atmosphere was electric and it was great to see so many Liverpool FC fans turn out to run the half marathon.”
It was a 24th consecutive race appearance for Stephen Symons – thought to be the only ever present runner who has taken part in every event in the race’s history since it started in 1994.
Despite suffering from a brain haemorrhage in November 2012, Stephen still managed his continuous run in March 2013 and took part accompanied by family. The 51-year-old, who runs for Manchester YMCA Harriers Club, clocked a time of 1:57:14 – and is already looking forward to taking part in next year’s 25th silver anniversary race.
Alistair Rutherford, aged 21 from Allerton, ran dressed as a viola and set a new Guinness World Record as the fastest half marathon runner dressed as a musical instrument.
The viola student ran in a custom-made viola costume and was raising funds for musical charity Arco. He set a new record with his time of 1:19:32 – smashing the record by 7 minutes 25 seconds.
David Miles ran as a chef carrying a 3.5kg cooking pot and broke the Guinness World Record as the fastest half marathoner dressed as a chef.
The 53-year-old chef lives in Parbold after living in Maghull for many years. Fundraising for Cancer Research UK, David hoped to smash the 1:40 barrier – he recorded a time of 1:37:39, beating the record by 9 minutes 46 seconds.
Former Emmerdale and Waterloo Road actor Kurtis Stacey, from Liverpool, took part in the BTR 10 Mile Road Race to raise funds for the James Bulger Memorial Trust. He was joined by childhood best friend Craig Macauley.
This was Kurtis and Craig’s first race in a year-long challenge to complete seven BTR running events during 2017 to fundraise for the charity. They will be joined in future races by Milk Tray Man and Cheshire firefighter Patrick McBride, and Dale Roberts, ambassador of the James Bulger Memorial Trust.
Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon is organised by BTR Liverpool, the leading independent organisation for creating, managing and delivering headline race events across Liverpool City Region. The BTR event portfolio also includes Liverpool Santa Dash; Mersey Tunnel 10K; Port Sunlight 10K/5K/1K; award-winning Wirral Half Marathon/10K; 26-mile Whistle Stop Tour Of Wirral; and 52-mile Tour Of Merseyside.
This year marks the 24th staging of the event which began in 1994. Plans are already underway for next year’s 25th silver anniversary celebration race – appropriately being staged on Sunday, 25 March, 2018. Entries opened today (Monday, 3 April) and almost 150 runners have registered already.
BTR Race Director Alan Rothwell commented:
“What an incredible day and start to the race year for BTR. Thank you to the runners, volunteers and spectators for making it such a great event. One new course record was set at last year’s Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon – this time all four course records were broken.
“This is a huge testament to the quality of running and high standards of the event – the North West’s premier road race. Congratulations Dejene, Michelle, Mark and Sarah – fantastic running across both races and you’ve definitely raised the bar even further.
“The race also hosted two Guinness World Record attempts. Well done Alistair Rutherford and David Miles who brought a lot of colour to the event with their costumes. Great vision from both runners who took on their challenges with real determination and smashed the records.
“Plans are already well underway for the 25th silver anniversary race of the Liverpool Half Marathon on 25 March 2018. Over 100 runners have already signed up to be part of the celebrations.”
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