The Mersey Tunnel 10k is a unique event as far as 10k races are concerned. Not only is it point-to-point race where you start in Liverpool and finish in New Brighton, but you run through the Kingsway Tunnel where one of the 2 tunnels is closed off to traffic which is the race’s major selling point. I did this race for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. After hesitating over whether to enter again due to a holiday not long prior to the event, I decided it was too good of a race to miss, so duly signed up for it once again.
I made my way to Blackstock Street on the outskirts of Liverpool City Centre where the race would start and dropped off my bag into one of the baggage buses that would drive ahead of us to New Brighton. In the days leading up to the race it was forecasted heavy rain, so although not ideal I figured I’d be dry for the first few miles at least whilst running through the tunnel. Alas, it turned out to be dry, so it’ll be interesting to see how long it stays that way.
Before I knew it, 9.30am came about and the race began. We snaked our way down the emergency access road, did a 180 degree turn at the bottom and into the Kingsway Tunnel. As we descended the tunnel, there was nothing more surreal than hearing the sounds of hundreds of runners pounding their feet on the ground instead of the roar of cars. The pounding was occasionally broken up by someone shouting “OGGY, OGGY, OGGY!” and everyone shouting “OI, OI, OI!” back.
At about 2km the tunnel flattened out as we reached the bottom. It was only flat for a short while before the uphill incline to the Wirral side began – all 1 mile of it! For those who know me from training will no doubt affirm, I actually enjoy some of the hill sessions we have at Haigh Hall in the summer months and Coppull Lane when the nights draw in, so it was time to put my enthusiasm and training into practice! Although the incline isn’t that steep, because it’s constant it can be tough to maintain the pace, as I found. What perhaps didn’t help was that it was warmer down in the tunnel than I remembered from last year. Nonetheless, I past the 3km mark, went round the bend and before I knew it I saw broad daylight in the distance. I pushed on and made it outside; however the hill running wasn’t done yet. I had to carry on up to the top and then another 180 degree turn before the toll booths up another emergency access ramp, onto Oakdale Road and flat land. Hooray!
After turning onto Oakdale Road, there was the most welcome sight of a water station. I grabbed the bottle and ran for a few hundred yards attempting to drink as much as possible before dropping it. I carried on past the 4km mark and onto Dock Road towards Seacombe. I was already drained after the tunnel section and the forecasted rain had failed to materialise which I had been banking on to cool me down. I ploughed on towards the 5km mark and turned onto the Promenade alongside the River Mersey by Seacombe Ferry Terminal which I would run along all the way to New Brighton.
I was half-expecting some sort of breeze to cool me down a bit in the absence of rain, but annoyingly this was behind me, so I ploughed on and reached The Ferry pub in Egremont where the second of 2 water stations was situated. I grabbed a bottle and raced past the 7km mark. The beauty of this race is that the route along the Promenade is that it’s mostly flat, but alas I was lacking in energy to take full advantage having used most of it in the Tunnel. The benches may have looked an appealing proposition, but I gave my head a wobble and reminded myself the “tough” bit was already out of the way, I had done these distances before and there wasn’t that much of the course left to run, so I ploughed on and past the 8km mark.
Soon enough I was entering New Brighton and I past the 9km mark – not far to go! I headed towards Fort Perch Rock, turned left to skirt the lake and saw a long straight stretch with the finish line just about visible in the background. I pushed myself a bit with the cheering crowds encouraging us for the final few hundred meters and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line!
It was a tough race because of the mile long ascent up the Kingsway Tunnel and, in my case, it hadn’t helped that I had done no running for 2 weeks during September as I was on holiday in Spain. Nonetheless, I was satisfied with my time of 48:16 which was around 2 minutes quicker than my time from last year.
The Mersey Tunnel 10k is a unique race and it’s a good test of your abilities to maintain your pace up a constant incline and a flat route. I fully recommend it to anyone, particularly if you’re looking for a challenge or want to do something that’s a bit different from other 10k’s. It’s one of my favourite races on the calendar and I look forward to hopefully taking part again next year.