Europe’s largest 10k road race lived up to its reputation with over 25,000 runners finishing the event and a host of elite athletes vying for the 2015 title at the 13th staging of the Great Manchester Run. It turned out to be a Kenyan double for the top positions, with Stephen Sambu and Betsy Saina leading their respective fields home, while Gemma Steel finished runner-up for the second consecutive year.
The weekend’s festivities also included Saturday’s Mini Great Manchester Run, which saw hundreds of 3-8 year-olds tackle a 2k course, a 2 mile junior run, followed by the Great CityGames, which showcased a host of top athletes from across the globe in a variety of athletic disciplines, with Jessica Ennis-Hill returning to action.
On Sunday, the Great Manchester Run hosted a field packed of international stars, including Haile Gebrselassie and Jo Pavey. Kenya’s Stephen Sambu set a fierce winning time of 27:30 - nine seconds off the course record and the quickest 10k this year.
South African Stephen Mokoka followed 8 seconds behind in 27:38 (a new national record) while Sambu's training partner, Bernard Lagat, broke Gebrselassie's world Masters Over 40 record with a time of 27:48 in third place. Scottish runner Andrew Butchart took an impressive 7th and set a PB of 29:09, while Gebreselassie who has won this event five times in the past, finished 16th in 30:05.
It was Kenyan success in the female competition too with Betsy Saina winning in 31: 49 seconds, while Britain's Steel took second in 31:55 - a 15 second improvement on last year’s time. Kenya's Edna Kiplagat took third in 31:57. Pavey finished well too, coming home in 10th place (33:21). Saina commented after her victory: “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), completed the 10k distance.
The 10k also signified Haile Gebrselassie’s final competitive outing; an appreciation of Haile to follow soon.