Armed police guard course as spectators and crowds defy terrorists at Great Manchester Run

Thousands took to the streets for the Great Manchester Run as the latest large-scale event took place in the city in the wake of the terror attack.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 28th May 2017, 3:02 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:04 pm
An armed police officer stands on the course during today's Great Run races in Manchester.
An armed police officer stands on the course during today's Great Run races in Manchester.

Armed police mingled with spectators as crowds gathered to watch the runners, including mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

Mr Burnham said going ahead with the event, which included a half marathon and the 10k he was running in, was a difficult decision.

He said it had to happen in order not to hand a victory to terrorists.

Participants including comedian John Bishop and former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson stood on the 10k start line under the banner #RunForManchester, many

wearing yellow ribbons in solidarity with the victims of the Manchester Arena attack and their families.

Speaking ahead of the run, Mr Burnham told reporters: "It was a difficult decision and we took advice from the police and the security services.

"But the consensus always was that if we were to cancel that's a victory for those who seek to disrupt our way of life and I don't think we were prepared to give them that victory."

He praised the "incredible response" from the public, who he said refused to be divided after such an attack.

David Wyeth, of Chorlton Runners, and Swansea Harriers member Matthew Rees also featured in the line-up.

The pair made headlines earlier this year when Mr Wyeth was helped over the finish line of the London Marathon by Mr Rees.

They were invited to take part after the Manchester 10k and Mr Wyeth said the occasion was all the more poignant following Monday's bombing.

The 36-year-old said: "This is my home town. The fact we have places (in the race) is so brilliant.

"It's just such a big thing really to be part of this occasion."

Mr Rees, 29, said: "We just want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Manchester today."

Police officers from Wales were among those helping out as a heightened security operation remained in place.

A minute's silence was held just before the run began, and poet Tony Walsh, known as Longfella, gave a stirring reading to cheers from the crowds.

He said: "Do something to shout 'hope will survive'.