Perspective was everything yesterday. I missed out on a PB in the Manchester 10k by nearly four minutes. On any other day I would have been disappointed. Not yesterday. Yesterday was about more than just personal best times and running. Yesterday was about Manchester. Yesterday was about charity. Yesterday was about giving something back to this great city.
A lot has been said of the spirit of Manchester since last Monday’s atrocities at Manchester Arena. An attack which took the lives of 22 innocent people who were out watching Ariana Grande has brought Manchester’s residents closer together. Grief has been felt by a whole city but most poignantly by those directly affected by Monday night. Movingly, many runners wore the names of the 22 on their backs as they ran, others had the Manchester Bee printed on their vests as a show of solidarity. Each and every runner knew the significance of the event they were taking part in.
Manchester’s spirit was palpable yesterday as 40,000 took to the streets of Manchester for the Great Manchester 10k and Half Marathon. There were initial fears that these events would not go ahead but with the persistence and determination of Greater Manchester Police, the race organisers and Manchester’s council leader, they did. Forty thousand people took part this year. Let that sink in…
After an emotional minute silence and a rousing poem from Tony Walsh, famous for his message that Manchester is a city brought together by love, the crowds set off on their journey.
Do something to get your heartbeat pounding.
The 10k route took in a number of Manchester’s greatest landmarks including Old Trafford, the home to FA Cup winners, Manchester United. The support around the whole route was phenomenal, as hundreds of people lined the streets to cheer on throngs of eager runners. Musicians, bands and even a choir provided the runners with entertainment at various landmarks around the course. In the last kilometre, the noise was captivating, the crowd willing each runner towards the finish where stewards congratulated each and every finisher before handing out well earned race bags, finisher’s medals and t-shirts.
The simple act of running through streets so alive with emotion was overwhelming. So many runners chose to wear shirts commemorating and supporting the victims of Monday night’s attack.
If one thing should come of this week it is that Manchester can be proud of the way it has responded in the most bleak of circumstances. Yesterday’s event embodied the united spirit of this city. Strangers from the crowd shouted the names of passing runners printed on the back of each vest. Runners helped and encouraged one another throughout the race and I even heard a tale of one man being assisted over the finish by fellow racers after looking wobbly in the last kilometre. Nobody will be left behind.
After the run I took a short detour on my way back to Piccadilly Gardens to take in the hundreds of flowers that have been laid in St Anne’s Square. Many in the square prayed. As much of the city was alive with noise, St Anne’s Square was respectfully quiet. Those who lost their lives on Monday night will never be forgotten. The city of Manchester is grieving but the spirit of this city will never be broken.
Do something. The Great Manchester Run.
I ran this year’s Manchester 10k for Tommy’s Charity, a charity set up to help those who suffer the loss of a child through miscarriage and stillbirth. Donations, of any amount, would be really appreciated. Tommy’s Charity really does make a difference to the lives of families across the nation.