Wednesday, 14 May 2014

PREVIEW: Bupa Great Manchester Run

Europe’s biggest 10km road race will arrive in Manchester city centre on Sunday morning, and both the men’s and women’s elite fields are set to feature a plethora of world-class stars.

Following the BT Great CityGames held on Deansgate the previous day, the Bupa Great Manchester Run will witness a mouth-watering clash of two male marathon titans as well as a predicted demonstration event from the most accomplished female distance runner in the world.

In a thrilling head-to-head battle, the men’s race will focus between Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, whilst the women’s event sees Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba compete against many of Europe’s finest.

Bekele, the winner of the Paris marathon last month and the 10,000m world record holder and four-time world champion on the track, makes his debut in Manchester, and the three-time Olympic champion will have his work cut out against Kipsang.

The marathon world record holder and winner of the Virgin Money London Marathon last month, Kipsang too has never raced in Manchester before and the Olympic marathon bronze medallist appears evenly-matched in this mouth-watering duel.

Other names to watch out for include Stephen Mokoka, the 2012 Great South Run winner from South Africa and Spain’s Ayad Lambassem, the 2011 European cross country runner-up.

Morpeth Harriers’ Nick McCormick is expected to lead the British entrants alongside Fife AC’s Andrew Lemoncello.

Meanwhile in the women’s race, three-time Olympic champion, Dibaba should enjoy a comfortable run-out.

The five-time world champion took victory in 2013 and arrives following a third-place finish in her 26.2-mile debut in the Virgin Money London Marathon.

In a fiercely-competitive field, Charnwood AC’s Gemma Steel looks set to offer the closest challenge, with the 2012 world half marathon seventh-placer joined by French duo, Christelle Daunay and Sophie Duarte.

World 10,000m finalist, Daunay finished third in the 2013 event, whilst Duarte will be aiming to replicate the form which saw her claim the European cross country title over Steele back in December.

Additional names likely to impress are topped by world marathon silver medallist, Valeria Straneo of Italy, world fifth-placer, Alessandra Aguilar of Spain, Kenya’s 2013 Great South Run winner, Polline Wanjiku of Kenya and Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix, the 2012 European 10,000m champion.

Preston’s Helen Clitheroe – the 2011 winner and European indoor 3,000m champion in the same year – clocked a 15:31.76 British V40 best in California a fortnight ago and she is joined by fellow Brits – and marathon runners - Alyson Dixon and Susan Partridge.

Full coverage of the event will be broadcast on BBC Two from 10am on Sunday.

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