The Morrisons Great Manchester Run, the highlight of an action packed weekend, will forever be remembered as Haile Gebrselassie's last competitive road race.
The Ethiopian legend, widely regarded as the greatest distance runner in history, announced his retirement after finishing 16th in the 10k yesterday.
The weekend got off to a flying start on Saturday at Heaton Park, with swarms of pink clad Mini runners taking on a 2k course in the Morrisons Mini Great Manchester Run. Hundreds of 3-8 year olds were set on their way by Dart, the official mascot for the INEOS GO Run for Fun campaign, along with assistance from 7 year old Ella Chadwick who also took part in the event almost a year to the day she received a lifesaving kidney transplant from her Gran.
They were followed by Junior runners aged 9-15 years who took on a longer 2 mile course, with separate boys and girls events. They were set off by Olympic marathon bronze medallist Wilson Kipsang, two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and 2014 European XC Champion Gemma Steel.
The Junior run for the boys (ages 9-15) was won by Colin Daley who completed the course in a time of 10:28. The first girl finisher, Francesca Brint, crossed the line in a time of 11.48.
The action then moved back to the city centre as the Great CityGames Manchester got underway on a specially built track in Deansgate and purpose built arena in Albert Square. Showcasing a host of top athletes from across the globe in a variety of athletic disciplines, the highlight of the show was undoubtedly the return to CityGames action of Jessica Ennis-Hill, following the birth of her baby Reggie.
The Olympic heptathlon champion did not disappoint the crowd who gave her a huge ovation as she lined up for the 100m hurdles, finishing third in 13. 14 seconds. “It's just great to be back competing again,” said Ennis-Hill. “And it's great that Reggie is here today to see me run for the first time.”
There was an impressive victory for another of Britain's London 2012 Olympic heroes, Greg Rutherford winning the long jump with a leap of 8.01 metres, while South Africa's LJ van Zyl equalled the world best time for 200m hurdles on a straight track, clocking 22.10 seconds.
Sunday saw the 13th staging of the biggest 10k in Europe, the Morrisons Great Manchester Run.
An impressive field featured two athletics legends, the British Supermum Jo Pavey and the Ethiopian icon Haile Gebrselassie. Fresh from taking on the 10k course in his usual elite capacity, Haile then re-traced his steps for a second time by running with the masses in the final wave to soak up the atmosphere of the event.
In the men's race, Kenya's Stephen Sambu was first over the finish line, completing the 10km route in 27 minutes 30 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year for the distance. Stephen Mokoka finished second in 27 minutes 38 seconds, a South African record, while Sambu's training partner, Bernard Lagat of the United States broke Gebrselassie's world Masters Over 40 record with a time of 27 minutes 48 seconds in third place.
The first female finisher was also a Kenyan, Betsy Saina winning in 31 minutes 49 seconds, with Britain's Steel second in 31 minutes 55 seconds and Kenya's Kiplagat third in 31 minutes 57 seconds. The remarkable 68-year-old Angi Copson from Northamptonshire set a world Over 65 record of 40 minutes 30 seconds.
British Paralympic star David Weir won the men's wheelchair race with Blackpool's Shelley Woods leading home the women.
Sambu said: “This was my first race in Europe and I'm happy that I won it and helped Bernard to a world Masters record. “Saina said: “I made a last minute decision to come here and I'm glad I did. I love running in the UK and this was a great event to be in.”
A large contingent of famous faces supported the runners again this year, many of whom are now regular participants in the event. Actress and presenter Denise Welch took on some of the starting duties, whilst Emmerdale favourites Tony Audenshaw (Bob Hope) and Jeff Hordley (Cain Dingle), Tricia Penrose of Heartbeat fame, musicians Peter Hook and Liam Frost, boxer Anthony Crolla, former footballer Kevin Kilbane plus Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin of BBC Breakfast, completed the 10 distance.
The reminder service for the 2016 event is now open at www.greatrun.org/manchester