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Last ditch bid to save cancelled marathon

But waterfront set to remain a no-go in Sunday trading stand-off

Written by . Published on February 11th 2013.

Last ditch bid to save cancelled marathon

MARATHON talks are expected in a race to save Liverpool's 26-mile run after organiser Alan Rothwell cancelled this year's event.

Rothwell, of organisers Btr Liverpool pulled the plug on Friday after being told by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson's office that the city's historic waterfront could not be closed for the day.

'I spent hours at the weekend working on
a way of accomodating the needs of both the city centre and the marathon, and the suggestion I have submitted will work' - organiser Alan Rothwell

Instead the council suggested starting the marathon in Liverpool with a finishing line in Wirral.

Btr rejected that idea and insisted if the event couldn't finish against the waterfront backdrop it wouldn't go ahead.

Rothwell said he suspected pressure from Liverpool ONE and city centre traders opposed to a lengthy closure because of the impact it has on trade. 

 So today he sent an alternative plan to Mayor Anderson which would close just one side of the Strand, the docks side, allowing access to the Liverpool One car parks at all times.

The Liverpool Marathon was revived two years ago and attracts around 4,500 runners.

Rothwell, a veteran of 22 London and six New York marathons said: “The most successful and sustainable events are those finishing in an urban setting. They attract huge crowds.

"The old marathon started and finished in Woolton but things have moved on since then.

"To make the event commercially viable we need a city centre finishing line. If the city council sticks to its guns we'll just walk away from it.

"I spent hours at the weekend working on a way of accomodating the needs of both the city centre and the marathon, and the suggestion I have submitted will work.

Liverpool_LaunchThe Liverpool Marathon was relaunched two years ago

"I carefully looked at every option. When we met the council last week it seemed their option of a finish in Wirral was non-negotiable. We organise the Santa Dash and the 10K run in the city centre without problems."

Rothwell said the lack of enough road space in Liverpool was one of the issues for a marathon organiser.

It is hard to find a 26-mile route in the city which is why we start in Wirral and use the tunnel. In the past there was a shorter circuit that was run twice but that proved unpopular.”

Last week Rothwell met Mayor Anderson and Culture cabinet member Cllr Wendy Simon and the idea of a Wirral finish was put to him.

It was followed soon after by Btr announcing the cancellation of the event.

Today Btr carried an update on its website saying: “Following the news on Friday regarding the marathon and the further press coverage, a review of the marathon course along the waterfront roads has been forwarded to Liverpool City Council for their consideration.

"This is in response to the suggestion late on Friday from Mayor Joe Anderson that the situation should be reviewed. It is hoped the proposal will still allow the use of the waterfront roads in a similar fashion to last year and deliver a finish at the Pier Head which had earlier been ruled out. Further discussions are expected on Monday to try to resolve the difficult task of waterfront road management."

However it seems Liverpool City Council will be sticking to its guns and ruling out a waterfront finish. Sources at the council say comments from Liverpool One as well as city centre traders and residents, were influential in the decision.

The view is Sunday has now become an important trading day for the city and the potential loss of trade by the closures needed for a marathon does not stack up. The Liverpool Marathon does not attract major international competitors like the London and Great North Run races, so is not seen as a major publicity coup for Liverpool.

A City Council spokesman said this afternoon: “We are look at any alternative proposals. But following feedback from traders and residents we are of the view a start in Liverpool and a finish in Wirral is the best solution.”

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2013.

Not sure if there will be any tears shed at the loss of this event. As welcome as marathons are, the publicity value for the city has been pretty small. Maybe with time it might have built up, but we don't have the luxury of closing themajor route through the city centre. The utterly stupid Big Dig means no big scale events can ever take place without massive disruption. All of the alternative routes have been blocked off.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

Its nothing to do with the big dig. Its all about the strand being accsess to liverpool one's carparks and the need for the marathon to cross it at some point.

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2013.

I can't understand why BTR made such a dramatic announcement to cancel the marathon late last week, and now seem to be trying to present solutions after the damage has been done. People who were planning to enter will now go for alternatives such as Chester and Manchester, or will be put off trying to plan around a Liverpool marathon by the amateurish approach by organisers. BTR seem to have "thrown their toys out of the pram" prematurely and now seem to be regretting it, but the biggest losers will be the runners, supporters etc who would have enjoyed this event.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 12th 2013.


T StrandFebruary 12th 2013.

The first anonymous is right. We don't need a marathon when we have the Santa dash.

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