GMR 20 Stories- Eilish McColgan

The AJ Bell Great Manchester Run in 2023 will be the 20th staging of the event. In recognition of this incredible milestone, we’re looking back on 20 unforgettable stories from two decades of running in the capital of the North.

After winning the event in 2021, in 2022, superstar athlete Eilish McColgan – despite finishing second to Kenyan powerhouse Hellen Obiri – smashed Paula Radcliffe’s longstanding British and European 10K record on the road, by two seconds.

This year Eilish is coaching a team of fitness influencers as they take on their first-ever AJ Bell Great Manchester Run. Here she reflects on her experiences of the event over the years.

“My first experience of the Great Manchester Run was many, many moons ago. I actually did it as a charity run, with my mum, for Leukaemia Research.

“There was no pressure for me, I was with the masses and enjoying the atmosphere. It was just really cool and one of the first events I ever took part in, in Manchester. Those memories meant it was really nice to come back in 2021, which was my first time taking part as an elite runner.

“It was an incredible experience. I found the course very, very challenging, a lot more challenging than I’d expected. I think when you’re there on the day you get drawn in, the crowds are good, the atmosphere is good. There’s music, there are live bands, and there’s a lot going on!

“The last two kilometres are very deceiving, and I set off way too hard. I think I was under world record piece at one point and that certainly came back to bite. It’s a very gradual incline, but when you’re running a 10K you’re giving it everything you have.

“So, I’d say for any first timers out there, save a little bit of energy for the end, because I’m a professional athlete and I still wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the line that day!

“Having won the race in 2021, it was incredibly special to come back in 2022 and line up against some of the greatest athletes in the world.

“I was so proud of my efforts, I came away with a huge PB, a British record and even a European record of 30:19. I had learned a lot from the year before, knowing which parts of the course to attack and which parts of the course to save a little bit more energy for.

“The crowds were just incredible that day. It really does feel like the whole of Manchester comes out to support the event. Everyone’s smiling, everyone’s cheering – literally from start to finish.

“There’s just an electricity going around that day, from the kid’s events through to the main event as well.

“One of the coolest things is the out and back, coming back again on to, Deansgate that final 2K stretch, it’s tough, but you pass and all of the other runners who are out running for charity, whether it’s their first time or their 10th time.

“It’s just really special being part of the event.”

If you want to be part of a spectacular running celebration in the heart of Manchester on Sunday 21 May 2023, celebrating 20 years of the AJ Bell Great Manchester Run there is still time to sign up.

Whether you take on the 10k or Half Marathon challenge, you’ll line up on the iconic Portland Street start line and feel the goosebumps as you and 25,000 other runners follow the famous route, pass Manchester landmarks and set your sights on Deansgate for a grandstand finish.

With live music and entertainment zones at every turn, roaring charity cheering squads, plus the incredible local support who line the streets to cheer you on, it’ll be a party from start to finish.

For more information or to enter today click here.