Updated: Saturday, 20th October 2018 @ 4:55pm

'Closing the chapter': A day of sunshine & remembrance at the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run

'Closing the chapter': A day of sunshine & remembrance at the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run

| By Scott Sumner

Thousands of runners took part in the 16th edition of the Great Manchester Run on a sweltering Sunday with the Manchester Arena terrorist attack from a year ago firmly on the minds of everyone.

Over 30,000 competitors enjoyed one the city’s annual sporting highlights which included the usual array of famous professionals, celebrities and ordinary people putting in extraordinary efforts for charity.

Coming almost a year to the day since the blast, remembrance was at the top of the agenda with many competitors raising money for organisations which helped in the aftermath.

Before each wave of runners, a minute’s silence was held in honour of the victims of the attack before the Oasis anthem ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ belted out from the speakers.

The honorary starter of the junior event was 15-year-old Freya Lewis, who was caught up in the explosion. She has since had to learn to walk again but still took part in the 2.5k race.

Freya has raised more than £50,000 over the last year for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where she was treated. Her father Nick, who has helped in the fundraising, said: “I’m incredibly proud. She’s proven to be very remarkable over the last year. We’re proud beyond words of her.”

Meanwhile Martin Hibbert, who was paralysed from the waist down in the blast, took part in the 10k race in a wheelchair. In an emotional speech after he had completed the race, Hibbert said: “Six months ago I was in a spinal unit and I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t move.

“To be able to do this today has just taken everything out of me but my daughter kept me going and the 22 people that didn’t make it – I was just thinking of them all the way round.

“This is like closing the chapter of what happened 12 months ago and just looking forward now. This is the first of several that we’ve got planned over the next 12 months, hopefully finishing in Boston doing a marathon.

“By next April we’ll hopefully have raised a million pounds for the institutions that have kept me alive and kept me going.”

FARAH AND DIBABA TOP OF THE PILE

A vociferous support lined the route from its Portland Street start and out of the city towards Salford Quays, where entrants passed Old Trafford before heading back towards the Beetham Tower.

Sir Mo Farah, making his first appearance at the 10k since 2007, won the men’s elite race in 28 minutes 27 seconds edging out Ugandan Moses Kipsiro by just one second in a sprint for the finish line.

In the women’s race, Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba won her third consecutive Manchester 10k and her fifth overall in the last six years.

Six-time paralympic gold medallist David Weir won the men's wheelchair race with fellow Brit Liz McTernan winning the women's event.

Amongst the masses was ex-Manchester United star Gary Neville, boxer Rocky Fielding and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

This year’s Coronation Street actors taking part were Katie McGlynn, Cherylee Houston and Samia Longchambon – the latter who was running with her husband Sylvain from Dancing on Ice.

Thousands of other runners were raising money for various good causes including local charities such as Francis House Children’s Hospital and The Christie.

Everyday healthcare provider Simplyhealth is supporting runners every step of the way and helping people make the most of life through better everyday health. For more training advice, please visit www.greatrun.org/training-simplyhealth

Image courtesy of Great Run via Twitter, with thanks.