Mo Farah will tackle what is set to be the penultimate competitive race of his storied career as the 20th edition of the AJ Bell Great Manchester Run is staged on Sunday (May 21), but it won’t just be the multiple global track champion who will be attracting attention on the city streets.
Last year’s 10km event produced a spectacular women’s race as Hellen Obiri surged to a brilliant win in 30:15, four seconds ahead of Eilish McColgan’s British record-breaking performance.
The Kenyan returns to defend her title this year, fresh from winning the Boston Marathon last month, but the former 5000m world champion and 2022 Great North Run winner won’t be joined by McColgan who is continuing her recovery from the knee problem which prevented her from making her marathon debut in London.
Instead, the strongest challenge is set to come from Peres Jepchirchir, the Kenyan Olympic marathon champion who was third in London, and Ethiopia’s 2015 5000m world championships silver medallist Senbere Teferi.
Steph Twell will lead the home charge as part of a British contingent which also features the likes of Mollie Williams, Monika Jackiewicz, Lily Partridge, Rose Harvey and Natasha Cockram.
On paper, the fastest man in the men’s field is Callum Hawkins, though how close he can come to his 10km road PB of 28:02 remains to be seen following his injury problems in recent years. The Scot, who has twice finished fourth over the marathon at the World Championships, will be looking to make more progress back towards top form.
Fellow Brit Marc Scott, the winner of this event in 2021, has a PB of 28:03 and will want to make his mark in his first outing since coming 12th in the Istanbul Half Marathon at the end of last month. Farah can expect plenty of support again, having last been seen in action when coming ninth in the London Marathon, where he confirmed his intention to retire at the end of this year. The four-time Olympic champion also clocked 30:41 for 10km in Gabon last month.
The home athletes will be up against the Australian duo of Jack Rayner – runner-up in Manchester last year and the current national 10km record holder – plus Stewart McSweyn, the national 1500m and 3000m record-holder who has an identical road PB to Scott.
Last year’s Osaka Marathon champion, Japan’s Gaku Hoshi, plus Uganda’s Commonwealth marathon champion Victor Kaplangat, add to the strength of the international field.
The men’s wheelchair race should be a tight contest, too, featuring Sean Frame, Johnboy Smith and Commonwealth marathon bronze medallist Simon Lawson.
As well as the popular 10km, the event schedule also features a half marathon plus the Mini and Junior Great Manchester Run.
The elite wheelchair event gets underway at 9:04am, while the women’s 10km sets off at 11:15am with the men under starter’s orders at 11:30am. The action will also be broadcast on BBC One from 11:00am.
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