The Greater Manchester marathon is returning to Trafford this year after a ten year absence, hoping to one day rival the likes of London and New York.
The event, which takes place on April 29, is been organised by Xtra Mile events, a sports events management company and is being championed by GreaterSport, a sports based activity charity.
The marathon route is 26.2 miles long and will be the first of its kind and size since the mid eighties, with 5,000 entrants already signed up.
Simon Hill, Managing Director of Xtra Mile events, said: “Marathon running is on the up because people are wanting more of a challenge.
“Every powerhouse city in the world has one pretty much and as Manchester is without doubt the number two city influence-wise it is about time it had a marathon of its own.”
Mr Hill said that although the marathon and the Olympics were organised separately and it is complete coincidence that they taking place in the same year, it is fantastic that this is the case.
Jonny Cowan, GreaterSport’s assistant chief executive officer, agrees: “Obviously we have got the Olympics, so we are trying to promote the marathon as part of Greater Manchester’s legacy for the games.”
Trafford is also Manchester’s Olympic borough and Mr Hill said the pro-active nature of Trafford Council has really helped the marathon to transform from an idea into reality.
The marathon’s organisers place great emphasis on the community orientated nature of the event, which is why the route includes many residential areas.
Mr Hill said: “We want it to include many people as possible, we want people to embrace it, we want people to hold street parties and maybe speak to people they’ve never spoken to before.
“But most of all we want people to say how fantastic it is for Manchester.”
The marathon will be so good for the city, according to Mr Hill, as 40 percent of applicants are from outside of Manchester, many of whom are travelling from outside the UK to take part.
This will bring well over a million pounds of direct income into the economy, a clear benefit in the currently austere financial climate.
Mr Cowan said the marathon will bring other benefits too, both in terms of tourism and engaging volunteers.
“Events like this really connect the community and activate people to organise things,” said Mr Cowan.
As testament to this, SportsMakers itself is putting out a team of 20, in which Mr Cowan is part.
He said: “I have done one marathon before and I said I’d never do another one, but it’s everything we believe in so there’s no excuses.”
Many of those taking part are running for highly personal reasons, such as Bernadette Meredith, 57, who is taking on the challenge in memory of her mother, who had Alzheimer’s.
“I only started running six years ago when my mum passed away,” said Bernadette. “I started with three miles and then worked up to the Toronto marathon last year.
“I was so pleased to see the Manchester marathon near to home as I live in Irlam. I find it difficult to some days to run, then I think about what a special lady my mum was and it keeps me going.”
While engaging the community is clearly important, Mr Hill said attracting good local athletes is crucial in year one, such as top ten UK marathon runner, Dave Norman. His brother, Andy, a half marathon runner, will also be taking part,
Their father, Jeff Norman, competed in the Montreal Olympics, which makes the fact the marathon is being staged in an Olympic year even more significant.
Other big names include: Quinton Fortune of Manchester United, Ian Brightwell of Manchester City, three presenters from Capital FM, a team from the BBC and hopefully a team from Coronation Street.