Great Manchester Run 10K celebrates 20 years by honouring inspirational runners

We speak to inspirational runners of the Great Manchester Run - including a woman who has taken part every year since the race began.

Runners with inspirational stories came together in Manchester city centre today (15 March) to kick off the 10 week countdown to the Great Manchester Run. Four runners have all been immortalised in a piece of artwork created by local artist Alex Francis in honour of their dedication and to celebrate the Great Manchester Run's 20th year.

The race first took place in 2003 and the 10k grew to be one of the largest in Europe, attracting thousands of new and returning runners each year. This year it will hit its two decade milestone on Sunday 21 May and thousands are once again expected to be seen on the starting line.

We spoke to four runners - Elaine Wilkins, Azeem Amir, Ella Chadwick and Martin Hibbert - who all have inspirational stories to share.

Elaine Wilkins, 43, from Stockport has taken part in every Great Manchester Run often wearing elaborate fancy dress costumes. She has raised at least £10,000 for local charities. Azeem Amir, 23, from Rochdale was born with sight loss and runs the race with a guide runner.

Ella Chadwick, 15, from Manchester was diagnosed with congenital nephrotic syndrome at eight weeks old and needed six years of dialysis. Her life was transformed when her grandmother donated one of her kidneys in 2014 and since then Ella has supported the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital by raising funds to help other sick children.

Manchester Arena survivor, fundraiser and campaigner Martin Hibbert’s life changed forever after he was left paralysed below the waist in the blast. Martin showed enormous strength and defiance by completing the 10km just two days before the first anniversary of the attack.

Sir Brendan Foster, founder of The Great Run Company said: “It’s a privilege for us to celebrate the 20th AJ Bell Great Manchester Run this year - something we’re only able to do because of the way the event has been embraced by the people of Manchester and the North West as a whole.

“We’re recognising the stories of some of our incredible runners, who embody the tenacity, determination and generosity of everyone who has taken part over the last two decades."

You can sign up to the race on the Great Run website.