Haile Gebrselassie, the greatest distance runner of all time, will be on a double mission at the Morrisons Great Manchester Run when he returns to the happy hunting ground of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday 10 May.
The Ethiopian, who has broken a staggering 27 world records and claimed two Olympic 10,000m titles, intends to challenge for a sixth victory over 10km in Manchester and then set off and run the course for a second time to savour the unique atmosphere among the hordes in the 40,000-strong field.
“Manchester is one of my favourite cities in the world to race in,” said Gebrselassie. “The atmosphere, the people and the organisation are all fantastic. This time, after I have competed in the elite race, I am going to jog round the 10km again with another wave of runners.
“It will be a unique experience for me and I look forward to meeting some of those who have cheered me on before."
At 41, Gebrselassie has already won the Morrisons Great Manchester Run a record five times – in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He finished third in 2013 but will be gunning for win number six when he lines up alongside fellow veteran Bernard Lagat on 10 May.
Although both athletes have had careers spanning 20 years, this will be just their second ever race against each other.
Lagat, winner of the 1500m and 5000m at the 2007 IAAF World Championships, has pledged to have a crack at Gebrselassie’s over-40s world best of 28:00 in what will be his debut 10km.
“It is not going to be easy,” said the US distance runner, “but it is good to have something to shoot at.
“It is a really quick time. It shows how great Haile has been for so long. It will be an honour for me to run in the same race with him.
“I’m really excited about it. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to run in the Morrisons Great Manchester Run.”
The elite women’s race in Manchester will feature another leading veteran: Britain’s European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey.
Organisers for the IAAF