Those Harriers of more mature years will fondly remember the Tour of Tameside which ran from 1981 to 2000, before coming back for a final encore in 2003.
A fantastic event. 52 miles, 6 stages in 6 days, over varying terrains and distances around Tameside.
Brilliant camaraderie. You ran it as an individual and as part of a team of 4 over the week.
Part of the excitement was arriving at a different venue each night and checking the results board to see how far you and your team had climbed up the leader board.
The Tour was similar to the Tour de France but without a bike and without being in a foreign country.
Our very own Dave O’Leary and Neil Atherton are two of only four runners to have completed all of the Tours.
After 2003, due to cost and lack of sponsors the Tour came to an end.
The Present – Merseyside
All of this was confined to the happy memory bank until 2013 when the Tour of Merseyside was born!
Exactly the same format as Tameside but taking place in Southport, Wirral, New Brighton, Everton and Hoylake in early July.
Devised by a chap who had run Tameside a number of times and was bowled over by the event as we all were.
Merseyside has gone from strength to strength. Starting with 100 runners, next year’s capacity entry of 400 sold out within one hour.
If you want to take part in the 2018 Tour make sure you sign up in quickly in July 2017.
The Present – Rochdale
If you don’t fancy a full Tour how about a weekend Tour?
The Tour of Rochdale takes place in early June: Friday 6 miles road, Saturday 6 miles cross country and Sunday 6 miles fell.
Sounds easy ? This is hilly Rochdale, so it is a tough weekend and you know you have been in a race come Sunday lunchtime.
You always bump into a friend from the past whilst on Tour and this year it was good to see Hayley Kuter, once of our parish and winner of the South East Lancs League some years ago.
Hayley had a great weekend and was first lady in all three races.
The Future – Tameside
Which brings us back to Tameside. Graham Jackson, also once of our parish, resurrected a mini Tour of Tameside a couple of years ago using some of the original Tour venues.
He started off with three races in three days but expanded it to four in four this year and the talk is of five in five for 2017.
Again it was good to see some faces from the past including Liam and Sue from Sweatshop who ran with us for a short while a couple of years ago. Liam has now formed his own running club in Widnes. The new Tour is doing well with the old Hyde 7 the highlight on the final day
So are you tempted? Tours are good fun. It’s good to battle the same people every night and see yourself climb (or not) the leader board.
It would be good to have some Harriers company and to enter a team or two in the Tours in 2017 .