The Manchester Great CityGames and Great Run have been two of my favorite events to attend over the past few years. With the date moved back a week, I had to miss them, as they coincided with the Nike Prefontaine Classic.
My heart goes out to the people of Manchester, who were attacked last Monday night. That their most vulnerable were attacked is the most senseless thing of all. However, true to their spirit and tradition, the people of Manchester reached out to those in distress on Monday night and held a memorial on Tuesday to recognize the effects of the attack and bring the city together.
The Arcadis Great CityGames will be held Friday, May 26, and the Great Run Manchester will be held on Sunday, May 28.
Here is the preview from Stuart Weir on the Arcadis CityGames. Stuart covered the Loughborough Invitational on Sunday, May 21.
Arcadis Great CityGames
The good news coming out of Manchester is that the Arcadis Great CityGames and the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run will go ahead this weekend. A simple statement said: “After consultation with the Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council, The Great Run Company will go ahead and stage the events as planned”.
The GreatCity Games, a series of 8 races on a 200 metre track built on one of the main streets through central Manchester and two field events, take place on Friday evening. The Great Run whose field includes Wilson Kipsang and Tirunesh Dibaba as well as 35,000 somewhat slower runners is on Sunday.
Following the terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday which left 22 dead and 60 injured, the City of Manchester has shown a great determination that it should be business as usual.
The Manchester CityGames was inaugurated in 2009 with a certain Usain Bolt running the 150 metres and has seen a good number of world class athletes compete through the years. This year’s field includes Sally Pearson, Kim Collins, Orlando Ortega plus several top British athletes.
2012 Olympic Champion in the 100H, Sally Pearson, was strongly behind the decision not to cancel the event: “It was a shock, obviously, and my thoughts were not on competing or anything else. My thoughts were on the community, the people here and the people involved. Once you got out into the streets and you saw the resilience and the strength in the Manchester community and the people, I think they are really wanting to continue on with their life and move forward – not forget, though, but continue on and stay strong.
“So I’m glad that the Manchester City Council wanted to continue on with this competition because it means that they want everyone to stay as they are, not let the terrorists win, and carry on with daily life. I think that’s important.”
The only differences from normal that I saw were that my bag was searched on entry to my hotel – but interestingly not on entry to the event hotel. I also saw armed police on the street – for readers not from UK, British police are not routinely armed and most police go through life without touching a gun. Seeing armed police is therefore very unusual.
It is an event which athletes love: Tiffany Porter, a former winner in Manchester, enjoys the unique atmosphere of the event: “I love the fact that the fans are so close that you can literally feel their energy. It is just a fun event, often with no pressure so you can go out and perform and have a good time as well. It is a combination of athletics and relaxation to a certain extent so it is just a great meet altogether”.
European Indoor champion, Asha Philip echoes the sentiment: “I love CityGames because you can literally feel the energy of the crowd. In a normal stadium you are so far from the crowd and there are barriers but here you can touch them and hi-five them. You feel you’re running with them”.
As well as Sally Pearson, Tiffany Porter, is up against her sister, Cindy. How does that rivalry work? Cindy told me: “We do still talk to each other. We are very competitive and we both want to do well but we don’t allow it to affect our sisterhood. But when are getting ready to compete we are totally focused and ready to compete to the best of our ability.
Tiffany added: “It’s an interesting dynamic now that we train together. So we warm up together and do stuff together at the beginning of the race. When the starter says ‘on your marks’ Cindy is just another competitor that I have to beat but when we’ve crossed the finish line she becomes my sister again!
Watch this stage for the next round of the sisters’ competition and the rest of the event.