MANCHESTER runners raised a staggering £8.7million for good causes at 2017’s Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run, it has been revealed.

More than 30,000 runners took on Europe’s biggest 10K in the city centre, which boasted a half marathon for the first time in 2017, with more than half choosing to raise money for charity.

The Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run took on greater significance in 2017 as it was the first event to be staged in the city, just six days after the terrorist attack on Manchester Arena.

As a result, its runners and walkers of all ages and abilities sent out a message of defiance that their city would not be cowed in the wake of such devastation.

One of the biggest charities represented at the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run in 2017 was The Christie Charity, who had 3,000 participants across the 10k, half marathon and junior and mini events, which will return on Sunday 20 May, 2018.

Esther Parkinson was among the thousands of runners supporting the cancer care centre, based in Withington, Greater Manchester, taking on her third consecutive Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run last May.

In 2013, Esther was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to receive her treatment at The Christie, despite living over an hour away in Lytham St Annes.

In 2014, Esther was given the all-clear following her treatment, and this is when she chose to start fundraising as a way of giving something back for the care she has received. She joined Team Christie for her first Great Manchester Run experience in 2015, and has never looked back. Each year, Esther and a team of her friends complete the famous 10k and has already secured her place for 2018.

She said of the event: “It is the atmosphere that I love the most about it. I remember watching it on television before I signed up to it, thinking that I wanted to be a part of it. It looked really good and the atmosphere looked great.

“When I got on that start line I wasn’t disappointed. Everything had been organised so brilliantly, the atmosphere is brilliant and everyone is there cheering you on. Everything about it is so good and I look forward to it every year.

“Last year was the best one I’ve been to by far. I’ve been to a few local ones but the Great Manchester Run is the best one I’ve been to.”

A minutes’ silence was held on the start line to remember the 22 people killed at the Ariana Grande concert, before Manchester poet Longfella read ‘Do Something’, the poem specially commissioned for the event.

It proved to be a powerful scene for Esther, who said: “It was a humbling experience last year on the start line. Everyone was together and backing each other. It was touch and go whether it was even going to go ahead but I’m so glad it did. It gave such a boost to Manchester as a city. There was a defiant feeling among us. It was a great atmosphere.”

Esther, who will return for her fourth Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run in May, is proud to run for The Christie Charity and owes the cancer centre a debt of thanks for aiding her recovery.

She said: “When you get that diagnosis it is the last thing you want to hear. Your world is turned upside down. They have to put it back together again for you. I owe them a lot of thanks.

“It’s a well known place, it has thousands of supporters who can’t do enough for them – I’m one of them. I’m grateful to them that they put me back on the road to recovery and providing ongoing support. I will be forever in their debt for making me better.

“My sister is an oncologist in Cambridge and she was full of praise for The Christie which is why I chose them, it turned out to be the best decision I have made. Everything is there on site, there’s no messing around. It’s up there with the best.

“I can’t wait for May, everyone’s rooting for each other. There’s so many charities supported there and I am one of the many people who has nothing but positive things to say about it.”