Great Manchester Run Leads A Bumper Weekend Of Sport

Great Comeback 2

Entry to the Great Manchester Run is available at greatrun.org/manchester

Manchester is preparing for a memorable weekend of sport headlined by the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22.

Thousands of runners will join triple Olympic gold medallists Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba in Europe's biggest 10K event, which is set to raise an estimated £6m for charity. 

The 14th staging of the Great Manchester Run which is set to produce its 300,000th finisher. Runners will be entertained by bands along a route which takes them past Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, towards Salford Quays before turning back towards the city centre and the finish line on Deansgate.  

England manager Roy Hodgson is the honorary starter of the run, seeing off the first wave of runners from the start line on Portland Street at 11.30am, before he leads out England who play Turkey in an international friendly at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium later that day.

Triple Olympic champions Bekele and Dibaba are the leading lights in a star-studded entry list for the event.

Both are former winners in Manchester, with Bekele taking the win in 2014 and Ethiopian compatriot Dibaba on the cusp of an unprecedented three wins having led the women home in 2013 and 2014.

The pair will face strong opposition from some of the biggest names in the sport, with Wilson Kipsang and Zane Robertson expected to challenge Bekele, while Kenya's Edna Kiplagat and Great Britain's Gemma Steel will be up against Dibaba.

The weekend of sport gets off to a top-quality start on the Friday night with the Co-operative Bank Great CityGames Manchester, where spectators will be able to witness free of charge some of the world's best athletes taking part under the floodlights on Deansgate and Albert Square – just three months before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Events covered are the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles, IPC T44 100m, the long jump and pole vault, and a crowd of 20,000 is expected to see British stars Greg Rutherford, Richard Kilty, CJ Ujah, Serita Solomon and Tiffany Porter, who are all Olympic hopefuls – on a Friday night for the first time ever.

World Indoor 60m champion Trayvon Bromell is confirmed for the 100m, while one of the fastest women in the world, Dafne Schippers, returns to the CityGames track.

The Junior and Mini Great Manchester Run returns to Manchester City's Etihad Campus on Saturday, where thousands of youngsters can run, walk or jog and play a huge and important part of a packed weekend of sport in the city.

Open to children aged between three and 15, all runners will receive their very own running t-shirt, a goodie-filled finisher's pack and a medal.

For this year, all participants in the Junior Great Manchester Run will wear the Number 1 bib to pay tribute to Kirsty Howard, who took part in every Junior Great Manchester Run before her death last year at the age of 20.

Channel 5's Milkshake! presenter Olivia Birchenough will fire the starting gun on the Mini Great Manchester Run, and Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell will then fire the klaxon on the Junior Great Manchester Run, before taking part in the 10K the next day.

Sunday's Great Manchester Run is live on BBC Two from 11am to 1pm with highlights on BBC Two at 6 pm.

As always, a huge number of celebrities are taking part, including world champion boxer Anthony Crolla who will be leading his Crolla's Army – a dozen runners with their own reasons for running – fresh from retaining his WBA lightweight crown in the city only two weeks earlier.  

Coronation Street stars Tina O'Brien and Jack P Shepherd lead a long list of actors raising money for charity, while New Order musician Peter Hook is fundraising for cancer care centre The Christie, the city's world-famous cancer care centre. 

The biggest charity team is from the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Charity with a record turnout of more than 2,000 entrants. The charity has raised £860,000 in the last decade and is hoping to top the £1m mark in 2016.    

The largest non-charity team is from The University of Manchester which has 1,100 staff and students all sporting the university's purple colours.
 
Meanwhile, a record number of 209 corporate teams, represented by some 3,000 runners, have entered the Business Challenge. 
 
David Hart, Communications Director at organisers The Great Run Company, said: "Runners will come from far and wide to join this celebration of everything that is great about Manchester. Once again there's a huge turnout of runners from Manchester which has such a proud heritage and reputation.

"It'll be a marvellous weekend of sport and it's great news that millions of pounds will be raised for dozens of charities which rely so heavily on such sponsorship donations from runners and their supporters. 

"Manchester has once again done itself proud and hopefully runners and spectators will enjoy the terrific party atmosphere."

The deadline to enter the Great Manchester Run is 10 am on Friday, May 20, and late entrants must collect entry packs from Customer information points.