With less than a week to go till the Great Manchester Run I thought I would take a look at the reasons why this race appears on my running calendar year after year.
I ran the Great Manchester Run for the first time in 2008. It was my first 10k and I achieved one of my best times, despite being dressed as Wilma Flintstone!
It was at the end of that first 10k that we (my husband and our friend have been running partners from the beginning) decided to step up the distance to a half marathon and run the Great North Run.
After several more half marathons it seemed like a natural progression to take on the full 26.2 mile challenge. Edinburgh 2010 was the site of our first, and probably last marathon (although we do joke about doing it again when we turn 40 – and with us talking usually turns to action!)
The Manchester 10k was definitely the first step on our marathon journey.
Having run several half marathons in Wilmslow, Nottingham, Liverpool and Newcastle, the Manchester 10k continues to stand out as my favourite race. It’s one that I sign up to year after year, and when I’ve missed it, I feel like I’ve missed out.
2015 will be the 6th time I’ve run the Great Manchester Run. So what is the attraction?
1. It’s the largest 10k in Europe
With 40,000 runners taking to the streets of Manchester, including many famous athletes and celebrity novices, the sheer size of the event makes it a spectacle to behold.
The trains into Manchester are packed on race morning and the city centre is crawling with runners.
All this comes together in a well organised race. It’s not cheap to enter but you can see where the money goes.
2. It’s a great way to showcase the city.
The whole event shows off Manchester at its best, with the route taking in attractions including Old Trafford, The Imperial War Museum and the Beetham Tower.
Alongside the run, the Great City Games takes place at temporary outdoor arenas in the city, with a running track along Deansgate and field events hosted in Albert Square in the shadows of the Town Hall.
It’s an opportunity to spot the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill or Greg Rutherford competing against a true Manchester backdrop.
3. The atmosphere.
The number of supporters lining the route is phenomenal. I don’t think there’s a road that isn’t lined with cheering crowds.
And the entertainment put on for the run is a great motivator. Local bands, radio stations and charities line the route, making lots of noise, pumping out tunes, and generally giving the event an electric atmosphere. I choose not to run with headphones just to make sure I take it all in.
After the race, restaurants open their doors for participants and their families to refuel and enjoy a post race pint or two. The city is literally buzzing for the rest of the day and it’s exciting to be a part of that.
I suspect many Manchester residents have a few of these hiding away amongst their sports clothes.
I particularly like the image on the 2008 t-shirt.
5. It keeps me running throughout the year
I have to confess I am not one of those people who runs purely for the love of it. If I don’t have an event to aim for, the temptation not to run is hard not to give in to. Knowing that I will be signing up for the 10k each year is just enough inspiration to keep me pounding the pavements throughout the winter. And running is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to keep fit. All you need is a good pair of trainers and you can run from your front door.
6. It’s a social event
This year, our excitement has rubbed off on our Swiss friends who are joining us. 8 residents of Huttwil are heading to Manchester to see the city at its best. And to mark the occasion we’ve decided to don the fancy dress costumes once again.
I would urge you to come out and support the race. Even if you’re not a runner, it truly is one of the best days out in the city.
And, with 9 of us running as crayons keep your eyes pealed for team Crayola; which colours will you spot?
If you can’t get into town in the morning, you can also catch the whole thing on the BBC.
A selection of photos taken over the years by Mark Johnson, Robert Johnson and me.