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The Tour of Tameside is back with a vengeance
Monday 19th December 2016 @ 11:10 by Mark Phillip

Last week, The Tour of Tameside organisers welcomed a host of friends for a ‘Talk of the Tour’ evening.

Over 50 fans of the iconic running event descended upon the Grafton Centre in Hyde, to enjoy an evening of reminiscing running memories and reacquainting themselves with competitors that they have been shoulder to shoulder with over the years.

Graham Jackson, Race Director for the Tour of Tameside and former Tour legend himself said: “It brought back so many fond memories seeing and chatting to the runners from back in-the-day and also the past two years.

“The Tour of Tameside is such an important event on the calendar; we are delighted that it remains an important event for everyone in the borough”.

Former four time winner Bashir Hussein along with the Tour of Tameside creator Dr Ron Hill MBE and Neil Atherton who forms part of the ‘Famous 4’ who ran every edition of the Tour since its inception had a chance to look through the magnificent photographic collection as well as memorabilia on display that certainly transported people back to the 1980’s and 1990’s!

It was great to see people runners there who maybe have heard about the Tour of Tameside but have yet to run it, so we have challenged them to book on to the 2017 event and be a part of what will surely be another event to remember.

Chief Executive of Tameside Borough Council Steven Plesant MBE was a guest on stage during the evening, who highlighted the importance of the Tour of Tameside to the region both as a vehicle for mobilising residents to become more aware of adopting an active lifestyle but also the way in which the Tour brings together the boroughs residents, businesses and charities.

Steven himself is an active person and actually arrived to the event on his bicycle. He ran elements of the Tour both this year and in 2015!

Tameside Mayor Councillor Philip Fitzpatrick was another guest who took to the microphone to reinforce his delight in the Tour of Tameside being an integral community-focussed event that everyone can become involved with; from volunteering and to running through to sponsorship and partnership opportunities.

Local micro-brewery Tweed Brewery Co. ensured all who attended were able to sample two of their most popular real ales and this was a fantastic addition to the evening and will form a part of our ‘Athlete Village’ on each stage of the 2017 Tour of Tameside.

Two of Tameside’s biggest employers have again reengaged with the event as Main Sponsor’s for 2017. Hyde-based Kerry Foods, who have Walls, Richmond and Mattessons amongst their key brands will be entering their second year association with the Tour.

New Charter Group, who’s mission it is to provide great homes, great neighbourhoods and great people will be making 2017 their third consecutive year of support and without these partnerships the Tour wouldn’t exist in its current format.

Sports Tours International CEO, Chris Bird said he’s very excited about the forthcoming event. “There were over 1,000 runners at last year’s tour, and this year we’ve got a few more surprises to throw in as well” he said.

“We have even more partners this year which is great, so it’s growing in reputation and we’re spreading the message nationally.”

Questioned when planning started for the 2017 tour, Chris said: “We literally started planning for the 2017 tour as soon as we finished the previous one.

“We sat down together and looked at the kind of comments and feedback we received on social media. There was a real clamber for people wanting another day, but what we wanted to do was just make the four days that we already have really special.

“We’ve stuck with the four days but we’ll review it again next year.”

In a bid to make the tour accessible to everyone – regardless of age or ability – tour organisers have decided to introduce something special to next year’s event. Chris said: “One of the things that really drove us to reintroduce the tour was to get people in Tameside more active.

“One of the points that was raised after the last tour was that a lot of people couldn’t do the four days or the individual days on their own.

“With this in mind, we’ve decided to create the ‘ultimate relay’. Four people can enter an individual leg and run it as a relay. The winning group will receive money for their chosen charity.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to make it more accessible for people who just want to get more active, but can’t take the whole challenge on.”

Looking to increase their presence in Tameside, Curzon Ashton Football Club are also hoping to jump on board with next year’s tour. CEO Natalie Atkinson explained: “It’s something we’ve wanted to get involved with for quite a while now, supporting the event through volunteers we have at the club, and even hosting a pasta party at the Tameside Stadium like they do in the London Marathon.

“We would also like to put in a team for the tour as well, whether that be staff or players.”

Kevin Harmer, UK Events and Sponsorship Manager for the Tour of Tameside said: “We had a fantastic evening celebrating the Tour of Tameside with those who have contributed hugely to it over a number of years. With runners, local councillors, businesses and fans coming together – it was a great night and hopefully everyone has gone home enthused for the 2017 event!”.

You can watch a video from the open evening here: