OLYMPIC gold medallist Greg Rutherford was joined by runners from all walks of life at this week’s launch of the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run which is celebrating its 15th year, when it returns to the city centre on Sunday, 28 May.
They celebrated the milestone year armed with memorabilia ranging from medals to photographs, dating back to the first event in 2003.
The Great Manchester Run was first staged as a legacy event following the Commonwealth Games, held in Manchester in 2002, and has grown to be the largest of its kind in Europe.
Attracting some of the world’s finest distance runners, Haile Gebrselassie, Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele, Wilson Kipsang and Great Britain’s Jo Pavey have all graced the streets of Manchester.
Today, Greg – himself a multiple winner in the long jump at the Great CityGames Manchester street athletics event which takes place on the same weekend – returned to the city to celebrate the latest milestone in the history of the event.
Ella Chadwick, from Rochdale, was joined by her mum Karen Hughes, both planning to take part in the event, as Ella looks forward to the Junior Great Manchester Run.
Ella, nine, has been a patient at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital all of her life after she was born with Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome, a rare illness which causes kidney failure.
She received a life-saving kidney from her grandmother in May 2014, and even after her transplant, Ella suffered from mobility problems and had to learn how to support herself on her feet.
Ella completed the Mini Great Manchester Run last year, going over the finish line unaided in what was an emotional scene for all involved. And this year, her mum is joining in too – taking on her first 10K on the Sunday.
Also in attendance were charity fundraisers supporting The Christie, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity and the Kirsty Club, the charity launched by Kirsty Howard, who took part in every Junior Great Manchester Run before her death in 2015 at the age of 20.
The event is notable for its wealth of celebrity runners, with Joe Gill, who plays Finn Barton in Emmerdale, representing the famous faces as he plans to take on the 10k in support of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity.
Some huge names have acted as honorary starters over the years, with Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson, Denis Law, Andrew Flintoff, Liz Dawn, Russell Watson and Ricky Hatton firing the starting pistol, along with Fabrice Muamba, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Roy Hodgson, Denise Welch, Haile Gebrselassie, Gordon Burns, Andy Cole and Mike Summerbee over its 15-year history.
David Hart, communications director at The Great Run Company, said: “We are delighted to be joined by so many familiar faces to celebrate our 15th birthday.
“Over the last 15 years we have met so many inspiring and extraordinary people who have done some amazing things for charity.
“It’s only right that they are here today to celebrate the last 15 years as we look forward to many more here in Manchester.
“If it wasn’t for the support of Manchester City Council this event wouldn’t take place so we are delighted to welcome them along today to celebrate our 15 years in the city.
“The 10k, Junior and Mini runs, Great CityGames Manchester, and a brand new half marathon will ensure that the North West once again witnesses a spectacular Great Manchester Run weekend in the heart of the city.”
Entries for the Great Manchester Run 10k are now open. To enter, visit: www.Greatrun.org/Manchester