After a decade long absence, almost 4,500 runners competed with strong winds and torrential rain to finish yesterday's Greater Manchester Marathon. The event, which was officially announced as full two weeks ago and looked set to attract nigh on 8,000 competitors, saw Bellahouston Road Runners' Rebecca Johnson finish first in the female field.
The inclement conditions were clearly a deterrent to many with heavy rain greeting runners as they took off from Longford Park in Stretford. Glaswegian competitor Rebecca Johnson (3:05:22) was more than five minutes ahead of second-placed Sally Malir (3:10:46), with Jessica Oliver-Bell securing third position in 3:10:50.
In the men's field, 33-year-old Dave Norman took first place with a time of 2:24:46. Norman, who runs with Altrincham and District AC, overhauled friend and rival Andi Jones, who completed the race in 2:26:23.
Speaking after the race, Norman commented on his tussle with Jones: "I got a bit of a shock the night before when I found out Andi was also doing the race I knew he had done London and his legs might be a bit ropey. But Andi is very committed to front-running. He has got this motto: - 'go hard or go home' - so I knew he would not give me an easy ride."
After leaving Longford Park, competitors passed through the Imperial War Museum, Media City, Trafford Park and Dunham Massey. Runners have so far commented positively on the vocal support given throughout the race, enthusiastic marshals and the plentiful water stations.
Despite this favourable feedback, many participants have been critical of the manner in which bags were left unattended, with runners required to sift through belongings at the end. One disgruntled competitor commented: "I didn't expect to have to stand and shiver in nothing but soaking wet shorts and t-shirt for over an hour looking for my baggage, which was basically just chucked in the mud."
Results of the Greater Manchester Marathon are available here.