ABOUT SPORTS TOURS INTERNATIONAL
These days Sports Tours International are well-known as the number one choice for travelling athletes, and sporting enthusiasts, in Europe. We are the go to for anyone who wants to take part in events across the world. As International Travel Partner of the 6 World Marathon Majors, and VIP tour operator of the 3 Grand Tours and 5 Monuments of Cycling, we cover a wide range of events. Leisure cyclists, and those looking for an easy adventure holiday, are catered for by our Freewheel Holidays and Whereabouts brands. Through our partnership with the world’s number 1 training resort, Club La Santa in Lanzarote, those looking for a training or active holiday are also very well looked after.
If you were wondering where it all started, here is our story so far……………..
The story of Sports Tours International is a tale of visionaries. Inspired to start the company by their own joy in competing in the world’s best events. They paved the way for the rest of us, so now we can enjoy a wealth of opportunity in sports travel, warm weather training, leisure and competitive cycling, and sports tourism in general.
Sports Tours International founder, and Irishman, Vince Regan started organising his first trips to international marathons back in the 1970s. He was an ex-international marathon runner himself, and could see the value in people travelling to far off places to participate in marathons. He timed it right as the running craze was starting to take hold. Vince was born in Ireland in 1944, and in his twenties, he moved to England and became a fireman. He was based at Farnworth Fire Station in Bolton, Greater Manchester and he ran his own sports shop in Bolton. Ed Nicoll, one of our overseas Marathon guides remembers buying his first pair of Adidas ZX trainers from Vince’s shop. Vince also spent time as a coach at Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
After selling his sports shop, Vince started his travel business. One of his first trips was to the iconic New York Marathon. Vince really pioneered the concept of the International Travel Partner for events such as this. Being a well known figure within the running community; Vince also became involved in the creation of the London Marathon and took responsibility for managing the London Marathon international runner programme. This is an honour Sports Tours International still holds to this day. As Vince was well known to many events and other travel companies, he also founded an organisation called TOURS, which brought together many specialist running travel companies from around the World. This allowed them to work together, with international marathons, and enabled more runners to participate, in more events, across the Globe.
Vince was also an important figure in local running, a member of Bolton United Harriers and the founder of the Pony British Marathon in Bolton in 1981. He was also one of the 29 founding fathers of AIMS, the Association of International Marathons, and he attended the preliminary meeting held in Honolulu in December 1981 and the “establishing Congress” held in London on 6-7 May 1982. After AIMS’ foundation, at that meeting he became the Association’s press officer, from 1988-1991 sharing that role with Manfred Steffny.
Club La Santa
So… the next step in Vince’s mind was that people who take part in running events need somewhere to train, right?
Like many of his fellow Irish, Vince liked travelling to the island paradise of Lanzarote. He particularly enjoyed going to the sports training resort of Club La Santa. A strong relationship developed over the years, and Sports Tours International started selling holidays to Lanzarote and in particular to La Santa. The brand was built over the years in the UK and Ireland, and as popularity grew, the resort has gone from strength to strength.
Now offering 80 different sports, with over 40 expert instructors (the Green Team) to help you get the best out of your holiday, and activities for everyone whether they are 4 or 74, Club La Santa has built its stellar reputation, and become the world’s No. 1 sports and active holiday resort, attracting amateurs, enthusiasts and professionals alike.
These days more than 12.000 people travel to Club La Santa every year with Sports Tours International, and to this day, Sports Tours International is the exclusive UK and Ireland Agent for Club La Santa, Lanzarote, the world famous sports holiday resort.
One of Vince’s customers and friends was Manchester business man Fred Done. Fred is one of the most successful business men in the UK, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has not heard of one or other of his businesses. But, not many people know that he has also run many marathons, and has long been, a keen sportsman. When the opportunity arose to invest in Sports Tours International, Fred grasped it with both hands. To this day, Fred is the Chairman of Sports Tours International.
The Running Bee Foundation
Following the tragic loss of Mo Done, in July 2018, on December the 4th 2018, Sports Tours International launched a new charitable initiative in her memory. The Running Bee Foundation aims to promote active and healthy lifestyles, and help in the ongoing fight against childhood obesity. Starting from 2019, all of the profits from Sports Tours International’s 9 local running events will go to The Running Bee Foundation. These profits will be invested back into the communities where the events take place.
‘I’m immensely proud to have launched The Running Bee Foundation in honour of Mo Done. Our UK events have played a huge part in promoting an active lifestyle in the local communities, so it’s important for us to now give something back. Next year, all the profits from these events will go into the Foundation, to be invested back into the communities, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the monies will make a difference to the health and wellbeing of our region.’ (Chris Bird, CEO, Sports Tours International)
Chris Bird, CEO.
Chris joined sports tours in 2007, having spent 25 years in media, sports, and business development. Chris is the owner of a Manchester based PR business, and spent 15 years on the board of JD sports PLC. He also spent 5 years on the board of Manchester City as the Chief Operating Officer, and was the youngest person ever to hold this position.
Chris first met Fred in 2003, at the BBC sports awards, and within weeks, became a media adviser to Betfred. In 2007, Fred invited Chris to review the Sports Tours business, and plan a future strategy. Following the review, Chris was made CEO of the business.
Sports Tours International has grown 4 fold since Chris’s appointment, and is now the number one multi sport tour operator in Europe. When asked what his ambition was for sports Tours Chris said; ‘ To create the world’s largest active lifestyle community’.
So… not much really!
Dr ‘Ron’ Hill MBE is a man who helped push the boundaries in marathon running. Not only was he the second man to break 2:10 in the marathon, but he also set world records at four other distances, winning gold medals for the marathon at the European Championships in 1969 and the Commonwealth Games in 1970.
However, to many, he was made famous as a clothing entrepreneur, with the well-recognised Ron Hill running attire, which can be spotted online, as well as in sports shops up and down the country. For us though, he is one of our much-adored Sports Tours International Ambassadors, spreading the word on how fanatical about sport we really are, not to mention promoting many of our upcoming running events.
Down there for running, up there for thinking. That’s a good way to sum up the life of Ron Hill so far. After graduating from university with a PhD in textile chemistry, Ron set about convincing the running world about the benefits of synthetic materials for athletes. That saw the launch of Ron Hill Sports in 1970, pioneering wrap over-shorts, mesh vests and waterproof running jackets to name just a few products. The company was eventually sold, before Hill set back up in business with Hilly Clothing, specialising in technical socks and other running accessories.
Although Ron has now hung up his running shoes; he remains an icon and inspiration for runners the world over, and can still be found supporting local running events such as the Tour of Tameside: Dr Ron Hill, Hyde 7 Miles (a Running Bee Foundation event). Alongside fellow Sports Tours International ambassadors, Stacey Copeland and Rhianna Parkinson, Ron endeavours everyday to spread a positive message about the impact of sport, not just for individuals, but for the community as a whole.
Pictured L-R MBE; Lawrence Jones (CEO UKFast) Marathon legend Ron Hill and Chris Bird (CEO Sports Tours – Ron is holding the shoe he helped design and he wore in the winning 1970 Boston Marathon.
Meet our Community Ambassadors – Stacey and Rhianna
“Our goal is to create the world’s largest active lifestyle community and whilst we are an international brand, it’s important to engage with our local communities in the North West too.”(Chris Bird, CEO, Sports Tours International)
“I’ve spent that many years waiting for things to change…And I’ve realised that it doesn’t happen unless some of us make it happen. I don’t want to be quietly waiting for other people to do something. I need to be one of them.”
Home grown in Hyde, Tameside, it seemed only fitting that Professional Boxer (first ever British holder of a women’s Commonwealth Boxing Title) and fierce advocate of gender equality in sport, Stacey Copeland, be made Sports Tours International’s first ever Community Ambassador.
During her 6 year amateur career, Stacey became a force to be reckoned with, claiming three National Champion titles and a European silver medal. Since turning pro in 2017, she has retained an unbeaten record in the ring, and, in 2018 cemented her place in both the boxing and women’s sporting history books, by becoming the first British woman to win a Commonwealth title.
Out of the ring, Stacey’s credentials are equally impressive. Last year, she won the Women’s Sport Trust, Sporting Role Model Award, at the #BeAGameChanger event in London. She is a founder of the, Manchester based, Pave the Way Project. She even hosts her very own slot on BBC Radio Manchester’s ‘Dead Good Show’, which she uses as a platform to spread her message of empowerment, positivity and equality.
Rhianna joined Stacey as a community ambassador in 2018, and is the perfect example of how far you can get by giving sport a go. She went from couch to 5k, to two consecutive Ironman 70.3 World Championships, in just 4 short years, through passion, determination and a lot of hard work.
“I couldn’t even run 1km when I first decided to get back into exercise. I began by joining local clubs which I found really motivating and fun – Sports Tours International are a company who are actively focused on getting more people in the community involved in sport and that’s something I’m passionate about!”
When Rhianna isn’t training (which does happen from time to time) she is passionate about trying to spread the message of what a healthy, active lifestyle can do, not just for your physical, but for your mental health too. She has fundraised, through her sporting activities, for mental health charities, and was a THIS GIRL CAN ambassador for Salford. Only 40% of women in Salford currently participate in regular physical activity, and this is something Rhianna is determined to change, “one of the things I love about sport is that it is very inclusive, you don’t need to be an athlete to participate.”
How we are Growing!
In 2003 we expanded through a series of acquisitions and in 2006, the UK’s largest cycling travel company, Graham Baxter Sporting Tours became part of our organisation, positioning Sports Tours Cycling as the largest cycling travel company in Europe. In 2012, we launched Wheel2Wheel Holidays, a new cycling brand aimed at leisure cyclists. Our Active Leisure Holidays division expanded in 2015 with the acquisition of renowned cycling holiday brand Freewheel Holidays, specialist in very easy cycling holidays throughout Europe. In 2017 we launched Whereabouts Holidays, (which replaced Wheel2Wheel and Walk2Walk) a specialist brand that combines walking, cycling and adventure holidays, allowing people to explore further and experience places they may not otherwise reach.
Where are we now?
Now Sports Tours International is one of Europe’s largest mass participation sports tour operators, taking thousands of participants and spectators to sporting events around the world, every year. Some of our most popular events include the TCS New York City Marathon, L’Etape du Tour and Le Tour de France. Over the years, Sports Tours has grown from its roots in running and has extended its wide range of sports travel products to include several of the world’s most popular and iconic cycling events and triathlon competitions;including becoming the only official Challenge Roth (the most popular triathlon in the world) Travel Partner for the UK and Europe. We also offer sports training camps in range of disciplines and bespoke corporate hospitality packages at a number of events.
We work very closely with Charities in the UK providing them with event entries and travel services to sports events across the world. In addition we are able to create bespoke sporting challenges to assist with their fundraising.
Sports Tours is also a keen supporter of regional running events such as the City of Manchester 10k, the City of Salford 10k, the City of Preston 10k, and the Tour of Tameside. The proceeds of these events also go straight back into the local community, through the incredible work of The Running Bee Foundation, and the projects established and supported with their help.
In 2018 we acquired the Republic of Ireland’s largest running tour operator Sports Travel International and the triathlon and event logistics specialist Race Force. Expanding, not only the range of fabulous events and services we can offer, but also spreading our global active community even further.
A safe pair of hands
We are members of ABTA and our air inclusive holidays are covered by the ATOL protection scheme. We are also members of IATA, the airline industry body.
Head office: 91 Walkden Road, Walkden, Manchester M28 7BQ, UK.
Registered office: Spectrum, 56-58 Benson Road, Birchwood, Warrington WA3 7PQ, UK
Company registration number 2207655
VAT number 480 3031 80
Consumer Financial Protection
Many of the flights and flight inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate
Book with Confidence. We are a Member of ABTA which means you have the benefit of ABTA’s assistance and Code of Conduct. We provide financial protection for your money when you buy a package holiday. If you buy other travel arrangements such as accommodation only this protection doesn’t apply.
For clarity, a holiday package is classed as containing 2 out of 3 elements: transport to the destination; accommodation in the destination; transfers between the hotels used or from the likes of an airport to the hotel. If you book a hotel only, without flights or airport transfers or coaches between hotels (as part of a multi day tour), this is not a holiday package, and therefore not covered by consumer financial protection legislation as of the above. If you wish to to protect this, you need to look at other methods of insurance. If you are unsure about this, please ask us.