1000 runners, which is a record breaking number, took to the streets of Tameside last week for the annual Tour of Tameside.
This iconic event attracted it’s usual mix of club-class competitors, social runners and charity fundraisers.
Since being reintroduced three years ago, the Tour has continued to grow in success, this year runners have traveled from China, Australia, United States, Scotland and Ireland to compete in the event.
Reflecting on a momentous four days, Sports Tours International CEO, Chris Bird said: “This event as everybody knows started many, many years ago.
“We had a short break but decided to bring it back, thanks largely to Ron Hill; he was the person who inspired us to take it onto the next level.
“It takes a whole year to put this event together, and to do that you need a dedicated team, but you also need great sponsors.”
A number of local businesses lent their support to this year’s Tour, including Kerry Foods, Active Tameside, New Charter, Davies Sports and Swizzels.
Further partners include Browns CTP Print Solutions, Tweed, Curzon Ashton Football Club and Jackson Event Engraving.
Although the Tour has been a huge success this year, Chris believes that, in order to keep it special, it has to stay simple He said: “We’ll make sure that it doesn’t get too big, because we want it to be the peoples’ race, and we want it to be a community race.
“We don’t want it to be a massive race that’s just about the money – it’s not about that.”
“We’re runners who come together to enjoy ourselves.”
Describing the event as a great four days, Chris added: “We’ve been blessed with the weather, we’ve had more runners than ever before, we’ve had great support from sponsors, and it’s just been tremendous.”
“I also think with the backdrop of what’s gone on in the UK over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of sadness in the country, so it was just great to have a big get-together over the last four days.
“I think it goes to show how a community can come together in the good times, as well as the bad times.”
In what was a fiercely contested four days of running, Gareth Raven took the overall male title, while Kirsty Longley retained the overall female crown.
A Sale Harriers runner, Gareth took first place in all four legs, while Kirsty – who captains the Liverpool Pembroke Sefton team – came first in three of the legs.
Upon winning the Hell on the Fell on Friday, Kirsty said: “I feel great, because I’ve won the Tour twice but I’ve never won the fell race.
“This is the third time I’ve completed the course, but it never gets easier – I just didn’t look behind!”
Gareth, who completed the Hell on the Fell in 36.46, said the running conditions were ideal. “The course was very good under foot, as there were no muddy patches or wet bits, so it was perfect for descending into Stalybridge.”
Elsewhere across the four days, Nick Barry and Robin Horner placed second and third in the overall male category, while Vicky Wright and Catherine Howard took the same honours in the female category.
A number of local running clubs were represented throughout the event, including Hyde Village Striders, Mossley Running Club, BelleVue Racers, Glossopdale Harriers and East Cheshire Harriers.