Liverpudlian Celebrates Birthday by Winning Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Runners in the 2014 BT Rock n Roll Marathon (picture: Competitor Group/Ryan Bethke)

The streets of Liverpool were filled with miles of music and thousands of enthusiastic runners and spectators from around the world at the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon & Half Marathon.

Liverpudlians landed the top three spots of the men’s marathon including first place winner Rob Pope (2:29:28) who was also celebrating his birthday.

“It was an amazing yet hard race, but scousers are great for giving people support. It was special to run by the football stadiums and the parks here,” said Pope, who is from Liverpool, but currently living in Australia. “I didn’t expect the win at all. I wanted a decent time and to possibly come in top 10.”

Pope trained for the race by running parts of the marathon course in his hometown, but mentioned that he didn’t imagine the course would be as hard as it was. “I went off a bit quick and Daniel Chan (second place winner) overtook me at mile two, but I caught back up and we ran together until mile 15. I thought to myself, ‘it’s your birthday…don’t give up on winning now.'” The birthday boy flew past him to secure the win, finishing 6 minutes faster than Chan (2:35:30). “It’s going to be the best night ever to celebrate tonight.”

The events included a marathon, half-marathon and new 1-mile family fun run. Live, local bands lined the race routes to encourage runners. The day finished with an unforgettable performance by “Tainted Love” singer Marc Almond. Half-marathoners took off first from Albert Dock at 9:00 am, followed by the marathoners at 10:00 am and 1-milers at 10:45 am. The courses featured scenic views of Liverpool’s stunning docks, rich architecture, spectacular museums and historic commercial districts, finishing at the waterfront by Echo Arena.

“Today has just reaffirmed that this event has the potential to be one of the best running events in the UK,” said Rob Griffiths, race director. “The addition of the Saturday 5K, 1-mile family fun run and all the exciting participant parties at Camp and Furnace, turned this race into a full on festival weekend that a city like Liverpool expects and deserves.”

In the women’s marathon, Joanne Nelson from Darwen in Lancashire finished first in 3:00:33, followed by Federica Posesini from Italy (3:02:18) and Melissah Gibson from Australia (3:05:34).

“I looked at the women’s finishing time last year and knew I could beat that,” said Nelson, who runs with the Darwen Dashers. “I was in seventh place at one point and then I was counting as I overtook people. I could see the first and second place females, so it was a matter of catching up and maintaining pace after that. I thought if I can overtake them, I have to stay in front.”

Breaking the tape in the men’s half-marathon was Elly Tarus in 1:10:07. He beat last year’s course record by 4:23 minutes. Second place in the half was awarded to Nathan Kilcourse in 1:12:33 and third place winner was Anthony Taylor (1:15:45). Michelle Nolan won the women’s half-marathon (1:21:56), followed by Rachel Cave finishing shortly behind in second (1:22:14) and Lindsey Brindle in third place (1:23:06).

Among the elite athletes, other notable runners included Ged Fitzgerald, chief executive at Liverpool City Council, who also ran last year’s inaugural race in a full Elvis costume. By participating in 2014 and 2015, Fitzgerald earned an additional Encore medal. Two-time Boston Marathon winner and Olympian Geoff Smith ran yesterday’s 5K and greeted runners at the start and finish line of Sunday’s races. Angharad Rhodes, the blind actress from CBeebies TV show “Melody” also ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool 5K with her mum, and was the official starter of the 1-Mile Family Fun Run, before she jumped into the race with her mum.

The Liverpool race is part of an international series of entertainment-themed marathons and half-marathons that revolutionized the running industry in 1998 by infusing the race route with live bands, cheer teams and entertaining water stations. Other European race destinations in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series include Madrid, Dublin and Lisbon.

The 2016 event will take place on 28th – 29th May. Registration for next year’s race is open online until Sunday, 21st June 2015 at runrocknroll.com/liverpool at the lowest price of the year.