Emotional, overwhelming and incredible – just three of the words that Jess Dyer used to sum up her first-ever Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run experience.
Student Jess took on her first 10K among 30,000 participants in an event which was staged six days after the terror attack on the city, where emotions were still raw for many.
The start line of the 10K run was a poignant scene, with poet Tony Walsh reciting his poem Do Something following a minute's silence. Many runners were taking on the event in tribute to the city where ‘some were born here, some were drawn here'.
And Jess said of her experience: “I honestly didn't know what to expect but it was one of the most incredible events to have been a part of.
“You really felt the sense of community and everyone was there in Manchester doing something to help hundreds of charities. It was really incredible.
“The real sense of accomplishment and triumph as I crossed the finish line was just magnificent, I burst into tears. It was truly overwhelming.
“Ultimately my challenge was to complete the 10k without stopping at all, and I achieved that so that was enough for me. But I've definitely set my targets for the next one now.
“I really would've struggled if it wasn't for all the supporters along the way. Seeing my friends and family gave me the extra boosts that I needed to keep going.
“As I was running alone, it could've been a lonely race, but it wasn't because everyone was cheering you on! Having your name on the front with your number was ideal because it meant people could shout your name – which made the support feel lovely and personal.”
Jess was featured on BBC One's live coverage of the event, charting the 20-year-old's inspirational recovery following depression where she made several unsuccessful suicide attempts before seeking help.
The Manchester Metropolitan University student has been open about her battle with depression in the hope that more people come forward and seek help.
She said: “The last suicide attempt was actually my third in the space of a couple of years. I'd say it wasn't a defining moment, but there was a period of time where I decided that I actually didn't want to hurt myself anymore and I wanted to change the way I was thinking and get better.
“I owe a lot to CAMHS (NHS's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), because I received the most incredible help there. I went on a course of CBT which was designed for me to change my thought process, so that when I was struggling I didn't immediately want to hurt myself.
“But ultimately, it was me that saved myself and I'm really proud of that.”
Jess revealed that she raised £1,175 for mental health charity Mind, adding: “I am so incredibly proud of what I achieved and managed to raise for such a great cause.
“I'm already looking forward to next year – I can't wait!”
How To Enter
Europe's biggest 10K, which was accompanied by a half marathon for the first time in May, returns to the city centre of Manchester on Sunday, 20 May, 2018, with entries for both distances open now.
The 10K and half marathon both start on Portland Street, the half marathon plots a course to Manchester City's Etihad Stadium, before heading west to Manchester United's Old Trafford, where it picks up the 10K route back into the city centre, finishing on Deansgate alongside the iconic Beetham Tower.
To enter, visit greatrun.org/Manchester