It was one of those autumn Sundays when the weather was dark, gloomy and wet but this failed to dampen the spirits of the 8,500 plus runners who completed the inaugural Aldi Manchester Half Marathon. The pull of a substantial prize pot and claim of bragging rights at the first ever race clearly had the desired effect as Adam Hickey and Rebecca Murray recorded impressive victories of 64:41 and 72:59 in their respective fields.
Competitors descended upon the White City roundabout at 9am to tackle a course that has been designed to be one of the fastest in the country with just 41m of elevation and a 2 mile+ finish straight.
A group of 10 runners set a fast early pace but it was Hickey and Matt Bond who pulled away at the 15k mark to set up a compelling contest. Southend’s Hickey prevailed, finishing five seconds ahead of Sale Harrier Bond to collect both the £2,000 winners’ prize and an additional £500 for running below 1:05:00. Salford Harriers’ Carl Hardman took third in 65:37.
In the women's field, Rebecca Murray secured the title on her half marathon debut finishing on 72:59, with Louise Small second 73:47 and Helen Clitheroe of Preston Harriers third in 75:37.
Race director Simon Hill commented: “The Aldi Manchester Half Marathon has been a phenomenal success and we are delighted with the incredible support and uptake the race has received. It was fantastic to see the streets of Manchester filled today with thousands of runners and spectators, all contributing to a day of magnificent sporting achievement and superb atmosphere.
“The course was well received and we are proud to have the best on course support and entertainment, making this one of the friendliest races around. It was great to welcome such a fantastic and strong elite field who delivered fast times, firmly establishing the event as one the fastest half marathons.”