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.
Pete Wallroth is the founder of Mummy’s Star, a charity he set up following the death of his wife Mair, who passed away due to breast cancer when their son Merlin was just 10 weeks old. His charity supports mums and families living with cancer during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth.
Pete has taken part in the event many times and ran alongside Coronation Street Stars, Katie McGlynn and Rob Mallard at the event in 2019 following his input on a storyline that dealt with cancer during pregnancy.
Pete reflects on his experiences at the Great Manchester Run over the last decade.
“My first time at the event was cheering Mair on in 2004, she did it with a few colleagues from work for a fitness challenge. Back then I wasn’t into running at all. In fact, it was about the last thing I would possibly imagine doing.
“Fast forward 10 years, Mair had sadly died from cancer and there I was on the start line with loads of friends wearing Mummy’s Star tops running in her memory
“My main memory from my first experience running was how Festival like it was. I loved it. People cheering your name, the emotion as a very small charity, hearing people yell “come on MUMMY’S STAR”
“That sense of connection and running community was immense and for me really helped start to lift some pain away for me.
“The Great Manchester Run is the race closest to where our biggest support base is. Mair worked for Manchester City Council for many years, so we have a hotbed of support from her former colleagues, as well as wider family and friends.
“It’s that very focus on local causes and helping elevate the little organisations to a much wider audience that makes it easier for us to be heard. At the most we’ve had 100 people run Manchester for us at one event, companies have also run for us when they’ve had us as their chosen charity
“I have so many memories from over the years; being able to spot our runners amongst thousands of others on Portland St on the big screen, seeing long-term friendships develop between strangers who separately decided to support us and then met at the run, meeting other charities and learning their stories.
“Seeing the elation on people’s faces when they achieve their goal, no matter what pace they run, jog or walk is always a special moment. We all have them, and Manchester seems to be the perfect place to smash them.
“The crowd and support is bonkers, I once ran 12k on the course because I bobbed, weaved and zig-zagged around speaking to people and getting high fives, I realised I’d gained more distance because I was never running straight up the road!”
“The event carries emotion no matter what year, what events have taken place be they celebratory or tragedy, Like after the arena attack in 2017.
“When you live in or around Manchester for long enough, it stops feeling like the big city it did when you first arrived. I guess like anywhere, some of the novelty wears off, but on Great Run day it feels huge again every single time, I love that feeling.”
“This year it’ll be very poignant as it’ll be 20 years since I first got together with Mair and 10 years since the charity was born so it feels like a lot of synchronicity.
“I’ll keep running as long as I have legs that want to move, I’ll be running come rain or shine, road, trails or tarmac.”
The Great Manchester Run was first staged in 2003 as a legacy event following the Commonwealth Games, held in Manchester in 2002. The 10k grew to be one of the largest in Europe, in recent years it has evolved to include a popular half marathon and attracts thousands of new and returning runners each year.
The event has become known as an experience which truly embodies the Mancunian characteristics of the industry, solidarity and local pride.
This year’s event takes place on Sunday 21 May and entries are open now. Click here to sign up.