As a fitting prelude to the Great Manchester Run the following day, a host of Olympic stars are set to compete in the Great CityGames tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 25 May). Household names such as Greg Rutherford, Allyson Felix and Jonnie Peacock are all taking part in the televised performance in Deansgate, as 40,000 runners prepare for the 10k on Sunday morning.
Taking place in the purpose-built athletics arena in Albert Square, the BT Great CityGames has attracted a host of world-class athletes including Usain Bolt, who set a world's best in 2009 over 150m. This year will also see a mumber of Paralympic champions compete for the first time, with a crowd of 20,000 spectators expected to turnout.
Sunday morning will see the Great Manchester Run celebrate its 10th anniversary, with crowd favourite, Haile Gebrselassie, set to compete. The inimitable Ethiopian, now 40, is aiming for a sixth title at an event he first won in 2005.
On his long-standing affection for the race, Gebrselassie commented: "How could I resist the opportunity to return to Manchester? I like to run a 10km in May, it fits well in my schedule. Manchester is always a good race, it is well organised by Nova and my friend Brendan Foster. I always feel very welcome."
This year, the event will be started by ex-Bolton Wanderers midfielder, Fabrice Muamba, who astounded medics with his recovery after he collapsed with sudden cardiac arrest while playing against Tottenham last year. Indications from the Met Office show that the 40,000 competitors can expect a bright, clear day of running, with temperatures around 13°.
The Great CityGames is televised live on BBC1 on Saturday from 1.00- 2:30pm, while coverage of the Great Manchester Run begins on BBC2 from 10.00-12:30pm on Sunday.