Manchester runners were today given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to jog with a bona fide Olympic legend when the most accomplished runner of all time, Haile Gebrselassie, surprised customers at the Arndale Centre Sweatshop.
Gebrselassie, who has set 27 world records and won two Olympic gold medals, led customers on a jog around the city and took the time pose for photos and answer questions.
During the Q&A session afterwards the 40-year-old Ethiopian admitted that he has a soft spot for the city.
“Manchester is my favorite city in the UK. I have been running here for a long time and I really enjoy myself,” he said.
The four-time World Championships gold medallist also told fellow runners that he has no plans to ease up when it comes to competing.
“Without motivation you have no drive. My drive is races, which are my targets,” said the 12 time marathon winner.
“I will try and break every world record that I can.”
Anna Heaton, a Sweatshop employee, said: “It was really awesome to get close to such a legend. He is known around the world, and is such an inspiration.
“For him to lead a run for all of us was really special.”
Gebrselassie is in the UK training for a short run in London before he will take on a yet another full marathon in Europe.Other members of the public joined the crowd to get a peek at one of the world’s greatest sporting figures.
This is not the first time Sweatshop customers have been rewarded with exclusive experiences as famous faces including Greg Rutherford, Bradley Wiggins and Eddie Izzard have all met fans at the store.
The store brings accomplished athletes in to run with the Sweatshop Run Community (SRC) – a free running club based out of the shop.
While many of the running world’s top names have
graced helped at the SRC one Sweatshop employee admitted that this one was a real treat.
“It was a once in lifetime opportunity to meet such a legend. It was really great for all the customers,” he said.
The SRC runs every Tuesday evening and meets and Manchester Arndale’s Sweatshop.
Images courtesy of Anna Heaton, with thanks