btr Liverpool race director Alan Rothwell reflects on how running has the power to drive people to do amazing things…
In recent weeks the power that comes from running has been very evident across the country with the much covered Chorlton runner being helped to the London Marathon finish line by a complete stranger. The acclaim was immense and more than justified... but is it unusual?
I would say no. It's just not very evident unless it happens to be on national television.
On a local level, it has been witnessed every year since the start of Tour Of Merseyside in 2013 and I dare say many other races across the country. The Tour Of Merseyside has come to epitomise the general sense of support that exists within the general running community and there have been many instances of spontaneous support for fellow runners.
In the first year a small group helped out a fellow runner who couldn't attend the final leg because he was attending the funeral of his best friend. Others ran with him on the final leg even though they had completed the Tour themselves. In the second year we witnessed a Rocky-style finish with a mass gathering behind the final participant in an unprompted show of support for the young lady. It was unbelievable.
We had another mass gathering after the completion of the Tour for one of the competitors who collapsed just one mile from the finish of his 52-mile challenge. He was airlifted to hospital and didn't see the finish line. But when he recovered everyone turned out to do the final mile with him and then present him with his medal. Most of these people highlighted were once strangers but not any more.
The Tour Of Merseyside is a unique event because of what it delivers in a space of six days. And that is what running can do. It can challenge. It can inspire. It can unite.
Having watched the Paragon documentary, covering the fantastic world record 10K challenge taken up by Andy Grant, it comes as no surprise that this man achieved his target through sheer effort, application, dedication and personal commitment - and running was his platform to astonishing personal achievement.
Whether as individuals or in groups, the sport of running has an immense power to drive people to do amazing things and to show incredible courage, support and a whole range of human traits that aren't evident in everyday life. Having been running for more than 40 years I can only say that runners never cease to amaze and inspire me in equal measure. I'm just surprised that some people are surprised when situations like the Chorlton runner in the London Marathon arise.
Long may the spirit and THE POWER OF RUN continue.