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.
Peter Hook is best known as the bassist and co-founder of two bands that embody the city’s music scene and style, Joy Division and New Order. Salford born Peter took on his first Great Manchester Run in 2006, after recovering from alcoholism. He has continued to take part in and support the event, raising money for The Christie, the largest single site cancer centre in Europe, treating more than 60,000 patients a year.
Looking back on the early years Peter reflected, “I can’t remember why I started running the event. I had gotten fit after giving up the bad things in my life and needed a challenge. My trainer Sally Russel suggested it and after I got used to the idea, I was very excited. Just before my first event I was terrified. I was lined up at the front and the jostling and excitement was something I had never experienced before. It was an amazing feeling. What impressed me most was the support for all the runners along the way. You were not alone and some of the stories about why people were running or even spectating, were heart-breaking.
“I lived in Withington on Circular Road next to The Christie for years and got used to seeing people going in for treatment. Around that time, I visited two great friends of mine in there, who were being treated and saw the great work the Christie did. Unfortunately, neither Tony Wilson (Peter’s former manager) or (musician) Dave Dee survived, but the treatment they received helped them and their friends and families a lot.
“Taking part in the race helped me realise the power of so many people coming together to help. We shouldn’t have to do it, but we need to at the moment. That feeling of hope and solidarity is really fantastic, never mind the sense of achievement when you finish. It’s amazing. To date I have done 13 Great Manchester Runs, I’m doing the 20th this year and looking forward to doing more.
“I love running. I really miss it if I can’t do it. It clears my head and helps me cope with the shit in my life.
“How long will I carry on running the event? As long as I keep beating Mike Sweeney!”
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 come to be known as an experience which truly embodies the Mancunian characteristics of 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.