Head east from the centre of Manchester and you'll come to the borough of Tameside. The borough has a proud industrial heritage - the area was once one of Lancashire's cotton heartlands - and is still home to 200,000 people. As you cross Tameside you move from the city's fringes - urban and flat - to the edges of the Pennines - hilly and scenic. There you'll find the hidden beauty of Greater Manchester (see photo) and the inspiration for a great new North of England running event.
The event is a serious challenge - three races in three days over a June weekend that mixes fell, trail and road running. It's set to attract the interest of committed club runners, those of us who have completed a half marathon or are in good shape, and charity participants tempted by something a little bit different.
The Tour of Tameside kicks off with a great fell race which starts at Walkerwood Reservoir on Brushes Road. After an initial descent there is a steep climb up Mottram Old Road. You will then turn on to Hobson Moor Road and on to the fell. You continue to climb up to the high point of the race before an exhilarating descent to the finish at Copley Leisure Centre.
Copley Fell Race is a great first leg to the Tour but hopefully you've been sensible and kept plenty of petrol for Round 2 on Saturday 20 June, the High Peak Half Marathon. This trail run basically follows the route of the old Manchester to Sheffield rail line along the Longdendale Trail. It's ideal for running - gentle gradients and smooth terrain. It's hard to imagine that as you head along this peaceful Peak District trail that trains once thundered by on their journey between the two great northern cities.
There is a poignant extra on High Peak Half day with a short run - the Memorial Run - dedicated to PC Nicola Hughes who sadly lost her life in an incident in Tameside. The idea is that if you add the two distances of the Memorial Run and the half marathon together you will match in miles the badge number of the officer = 14846. The additional £5 goes to the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund.
Tameside tourists will sleep well on Saturday night and wake rested on Sunday 21 June for the Hyde 7. Following the fell and trail legs, Sunday's road race is a more straightforward affair although expect a big field for the Hyde 7 as organisers are anticipating a bumper turnout on Father's Day. You can enter any of the three Tour of Tameside events individually.
The Tour of Tameside adds up to a 'marathon' test - 26 miles across the three events, and is the ideal charity challenge. Local charity Tameside4Good, the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund or one of the good causes listed on runabc.co.uk would be delighted to hear from you if you would like to run the Tour of Tameside in their colours.
For full details of all three Tour of Tameside events visit the Sports Tours International website. Entry is just £45 for club runners.