Two of the most recognisable figures in distances running, Jo Pavey and Ethiopian icon Haile Gebrselassie, are preparing to add another triumph to their glittering careers this weekend. The duo are set to take part in this Sunday’s Morrisons Great Manchester Run but will face stern competition in what is Europe’s biggest 10k road race.
Pavey, who won gold at last summer’s European Championships, is set to face a trio of reigning global champions, including Meseret Defar, holder of the world and Olympic 5,000m titles, 2012 Olympic marathon gold medallist Tiki Gelana and Kenya’s world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat.
This will also represent Pavey’s first competitive outing of the year following her outstanding 2014, in which she also took bronze at the Commonwealth Games and finished third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Yet the Exeter Harrier has tasted success at Manchester before, winning in 2007 and 2008, and a further victory would make her the first ever female runner to claim three titles.
Pavey commented: “I’m really excited about getting back on the road and lining up again in the Morrisons Great Manchester Run. It’s one of my favourite races and I’m looking forward to getting back into some top-class road racing again this year. Obviously I would love to try and qualify for the Olympics in 2016, although I’m not complacent about that. It will be hard to get on the British team because there are a lot of good girls coming through.”
Gebreselassie, meanwhile, faces 40-year-old former world 1,500m and 5,000m champion Bernard Lagat of the USA, who will be making his 10k road race debut, former world 10,000m champion Ibrahim Jeilan of Ethiopia and Kenya’s former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang.
Like Pavey, the Ethiopian is looking to add to his Manchester titles having secured victory at the event on five previous occasions (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). To add to his challenge, Gebrselassie plans to compete in the elite field and then join the masses to run the course for a second time.
He commented: “Manchester is one of my favourite cities in the world to race in. The atmosphere, the people and the organisation are all fantastic. This time after I have competed in the elite race on 10 May I am going to jog round the 10k again with another wave of runners. It will be a unique experience for me and I look forward to meeting some of those who have cheered me on before!"